Timeform's Mark Milligan previews the six Grade 1s at Saratoga on Saturday, which includes the Travers Stakes.
"...now gets blinkers in an effort to have him a little more forwardly placed..."
Timeform on Tacitus
Forego Stakes, 7f Dirt (18:48 BST)
The first of six Grade 1 races on an excellent card at Saratoga also sees the first of a handful of short-priced favourites heading the market. There's no doubt that at his best Mitole is the one to beat, but there are reasons for taking him on here with Firenze Fire. With the speedy Promises Fulfilled on the rail, Mitole won't have it all his own way up front, and Firenze Fire has also been a little compromised by track biases on his last two starts. He can swoop fast and late to run down the pacesetters.
Ballerina Stakes, 7f Dirt (19:23 BST)
A three-horse race on paper, with only 2 lb between Come Dancing, Separationofpowers and Mia Mischief on weight-adjusted Timeform form ratings. In cases like this the simplest option is to go with the biggest priced runner of the field, and with Mia Mischief currently on offer at around 7/1 compared to 6/5 and 5/2 for her two rivals, it looks a bit of a no-brainer. A speedy filly whose last two outings have come over 6f, she should be forwardly positioned back over this trip and will take plenty of pegging back.
H. Allen Jerkens Stakes, 7f Dirt (19:59 BST)
Another chance to see arguably the world's fastest 3-y-o in the shape of Shancelot, who was absolutely blistering on his way to a wide-margin win in Grade 2 company over a slightly shorter trip at this track last time. Pouring it on through early fractions of 21.79 and 43.94, Shancelot went further and further clear in the straight on his way to posting a Timeform form rating of 128p. If turning up in the same sort of form, it's difficult to see anything stopping Jorge Navarro's charge, and he can't reasonably be opposed, for all that his price will be short.
Personal Ensign Stakes, 9f Dirt (21:12 BST)
The two market leaders in this race, Midnight Bisou and Elate, have met twice this year with the former coming out on top both times. However, both those races were over a slightly shorter trip than this, and the extra distance may well make it closer between them. That pair will obviously be tough nuts to crack, but Chad Brown's Wow Cat may have been underestimated in the betting at around 8/1. She was one place ahead of Midnight Bisou when runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Classic last year and might have needed her comeback run when filling the same position Grade 3 company here last month. At her best she's a real threat and her price simply looks too big.
Sword Dancer Stakes, 12f Turf (21:49 BST)
The only Grade 1 turf race of the night looks an extremely trappy affair, with strong cases to be made for at least five of the nine runners. The likes of Channel Cat, Channel Maker, Ya Primo and Sadler's Joy all have interlocking form lines, and it's difficult to know which one of that quartet will emerge on top this time. Consequently, Chad Brown's unexposed Annals of Time may be the one to go with. He has a bit to find on recent form but was a Grade 1 winner at Del Mar on juts his fourth career start in 2016. With just three outings since then, he has clearly had problems, but it looks hugely significant that his master trainer is persevering, and he can punch his ticket to the Breeders' Cup Turf with a win here.
Travers Stakes, 10f Dirt (22:44 BST)
This year's Travers looks as competitive a renewal as there's been in recent times, though the ten-furlong trip helps us narrow it down a bit, with several of them unlikely to last home. One that will have no such problem is Tacitus, who has proven stamina having finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Belmont Stakes. Bill Mott's son of Tapit was possibly a little unlucky when second in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy here last time and now gets blinkers in an effort to have him a little more forwardly placed. Mucho Gusto, Code of Honor and Tax are just a trio of dangers in what should be a fascinating contest.
Minimum Bet Guarantee
Betfair's 'minimum bet guarantee' on all Class 1 and 2 races in the UK and Ireland - which means all customers are able to bet to win a minimum of £500 - has been extended to cover all races at selected meetings this week. T&Cs apply.
Firenze Fire - Forego Stakes, 7f Dirt (18:48 BST)
Mia Mischief - Ballerina Stakes, 7f Dirt (19:23 BST)
Shancelot - H. Allen Jerkens Stakes, 7f Dirt (19:59 BST)
Wow Cat - Personal Ensign Stakes, 9f Dirt (21:12 BST)
Annals of Time - Sword Dancer Stakes, 12f Turf (21:49 BST)
Tacitus - Travers Stakes, 10f Dirt (22:44 BST)