SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Haskell Invitational winner Verrazano was made the favorite for Saturday’s $1 million Travers Stakes over Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Belmont winner Palace Malice.
A strong field of nine 3-year-olds was entered Wednesday for the 1¼-mile race also known as the Mid-Summer Derby.
Verrazano, with John Velazquez aboard, is the 2-1 choice leaving from the No. 3 gate, with stablemate Palace Malice next at 5-2 with Mike Smith riding. Derby winner Orb is the third choice at 4-1 with Joel Rosario aboard. Todd Pletcher trains the top two choices.
Also entered are Golden Soul, Moreno, Romansh, Transparent, War Dancer and Will Take Charge.
Palace Malice, which is based out of Aiken’s Dogwood Stable, will break from the No. 8 spot.
Verrazano is coming off an impressive win in the Haskell at Monmouth Park on July 28. Palace Malice followed up his Belmont victory by taking the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 27.
“It’s a great field,” Pletcher said, “and from a fan’s perspective, it’s one of the strongest Travers we’ve seen in a while. With the exception of (Preakness winner) Oxbow, all the major players are here.”
Orb ran fourth in the Preakness and third in the Belmont, then spent most of the summer in training at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.
“We’ve been tickled to death with what he’s done since he got up here last week,” said Orb’s trainer, Shug McGaughey. “We just hope we can keep it going for the Travers.”