A MORE SELECT KENTUCKY FIELD AND A WEAKENED TRAVERS FIELD IN 2020

Presently, the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday September 5, 2020 and the Travers Stakes at Saratoga is to be held on Saturday August 29, 2020.  In addition, the 2020 Saratoga meet won’t end until Labor Day on September 7.  Since both the Travers and the Kentucky Derby are contested at 1 ¼ miles and are only a week apart, the likely outcome is that the 2020 Kentucky Derby will be a showdown of the best 3-year-olds and the 2020 Travers will attract a field that is a cut below the top horses.

It could very well turn out that the Kentucky Derby will have a smaller field than its usual 20 entries.  By September, the preeminent 3-year-olds will have been confirmed through a summer of Grade I races and their connections will opt for the Kentucky Derby.  By contrast, many owners and trainers of second-tier colts and geldings will choose to send their charges to the prestigious Travers, with a better possibility than normal of notching a Grade I win and part of a large purse.  Some owners of the kind of third-level horses that traditionally are run in the Kentucky Derby but have no realistic chance to win are likely to avoid both the Kentucky Derby and the Travers, attracted by the opportunity to win other lucrative races in August and September that won’t draw the leading 3-year-olds.

The situation would change if, for instance, the Belmont and even the Travers were to be rescheduled.  The Preakness has already been postponed to September and the Belmont is unsure.

Assume that NYRA moved the Travers to early in its meet, towards the end of July.  This would open up the possibility that a horse could compete in the Travers and then go on to the Kentucky Derby five or six weeks later.

Rarely do 3-year-olds come into the Kentucky Derby having run in a 1 ¼ mile race.  This year the 1 ½ mile Belmont Stakes is on schedule to precede the Kentucky Derby and, if it does, some horses will run in both races.

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