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Saturday 22nd July 2023

All You Need to Know About the Travers Stakes

Travers Stakes
Saratoga Springs is home to the Travers Stakes

First run in 1864, the Travers Stakes is one of the oldest races in the American horse racing world. It's next due to be run on August 26th, the same day as the Celebration Mile, and there's enormous speculation around which horse will be the one to bring the title home. Whilst it's certainly a departure from UK racing, the effects that a win in the Travers Stakes can have on a horse's career are certainly profound enough for them to venture overseas to British tracks, so it's a good idea to be well informed. Of course, it also wouldn't be the first time that a British horse was brought over to the US with the goal of winning the Stakes. So, if you fancy a trip across the pond to learn about one of the most prestigious races in American flat racing history, you're in the right place.

The History of the Travers Stakes

The winner’s blanket is made with thousands of carnations

It's always good to start off with a little history. The Travers Stakes was named for William Travers, one of the people responsible for bringing horse racing to America. It was fitting that in that year his horse, named Kentucky, won the very first running of the race. It quickly cemented its place as a prestigious event for three-year-olds. It was initially run at a distance of 1.75 miles, but is currently run at 1.25 miles, providing more of a test of speed.

The trophy for the Travers Stakes is beautiful and was designed by Tiffany & Co. It is proudly known as the Man O' War Cup to celebrate the great horse and each year a gold-plated replica is given to the winner of the race. Along with this, the winner also receives a handmade blanket of carnations to drape over the winning horse. The final touch to the crowning of the winner is that the canoe that sits in the infield pond at the racecourse is painted in the colours of the winning silks, a constant reminder of the horse that took the cup.

The Travers Stakes in Popular Culture

The Travers Stakes has made its way into many parts of popular culture, but perhaps most notably in the collectable posters that Greg Montgomery designs. He has been in charge of creating the posters since 1986 with some of them selling for upwards of $25,000 at auction. The artist has a real passion for the Saratoga track and tries to convey that in every poster that he makes.

The Travers Stakes is also known as the Mid-Summer Derby and there are a whole host of games that take inspiration from it. A Day At The Derby is a classic styled slots game that allows players to search for various horse-racing-themed items, like binoculars, betting slips, and even a celebratory tipple. Rival Gaming is the studio behind this game and has made it available to play for free at VegasSlotsOnline so that horse racing fans can check it out without wagering any of their own money.

The Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing

Another important fact about the Travers Stakes is that it forms part of the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing. Much like we have the Triple Crown in the UK, The Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing is the title given to winning four of the major thoroughbred horse races in one season in the US. There are two ways you can win, the horse must win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Then, alongside this, they must also win either the Travers Stakes, or the Breeder's Cup Classic.

As the Travers Stakes has been around longer than the Breeder's Cup Classic, this is the original version of the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing, having been possible since 1875. It used to be known more commonly as the Superfecta and has only been won by one horse in the Travers Stakes configuration, which was Whirlaway back in 1941. Since then there have been a huge number of attempts, but so far, no successes. With that said, American Pharoah also managed the Superfecta far more recently in 2015, but with the Breeder's Cup Classic configuration. No horse has ever managed to win all five of the races, but we can dream!

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