Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality will try to earn Godolphin its second Travers Stakes win when he leaves the starting gate in the 2021 Travers Stakes on Saturday. One of the most powerful thoroughbred breeding operations and racing teams in the sport, Godolphin has previously run seven horses in the Travers and won with one of them, Alpha, who finished in a dead heat in 2012. Essential Quality, who was bred and is owned by Godolphin, is the 4-5 favorite in the 2021 Travers Stakes odds at Saratoga Race Course.
Preakness Stakes runner-up Midnight Bourbon is right behind Essential Quality at 9-2. Post time is 6:12 p.m. ET. With a well accomplished field set to enter the starting gate on Saturday, you'll want to see what handicapping wunderkind Matt Bernier has to say before making any Travers Stakes picks.
Bernier is one of the country's most recognizable horse racing analysts. An on-air contributor to NBC's horse racing telecasts and the host of "The Matt Bernier Show" podcast, Bernier first gained renown in 2013 when, at 23 years old, he became the youngest person at the time to qualify for the National Horseplayers Championship. He parlayed that success into a spot on the reality TV show "Horseplayers," which followed professional horseplayers around the country.
Two of his biggest scores came in 2014. In the prestigious Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge that year Bernier finished sixth, earning $61,000 for the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance charity. He won $40,000 after winning the Aqueduct handicapping championship.
He also has cashed Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks future bets at enormous odds, including 75-1 on I'll Have Another in 2012, 75-1 on Orb in 2013 and 35-1 on Shedaresthedevil in 2020. Now, he has handicapped the 2021 Travers Stakes lineup, made his picks and constructed his bets. You can only see them here.
Top 2021 Travers Stakes expert picks
One shocker: Bernier is completely fading Midnight Bourbon, even though he is one of the top favorites at 9-2. A horse with strong early speed, this Steve Asmussen trainee is expected to set the early pace, especially after drawing the rail. His only win this year came when he led from gate-to-wire in the Lecomte Stakes in January.
In his last race, the Haskell, Midnight Bourbon was close to the early pace before he clipped heels with another horse in the stretch and unseated his rider. "Midnight Bourbon was backing up at the point when the incident occurred, potentially due to distance limitations," Bernier told SportsLine. Bernier is not using Midnight Bourbon in any of his Travers Stakes 2021 bets.
How to make 2021 Travers Stakes bets
Bernier's top pick is a horse who is poised to "deliver the best race of his career." He also is high on a horse who has an "affinity for longer distances." Bernier is including these horses in his 2021 Travers Stakes bets, and so should you. He's sharing which horse to back at SportsLine.
So who wins the 2021 Travers Stakes? What does Bernier think of every horse in the race? And how has Bernier constructed his wagers? Check out the latest Travers Stakes odds 2021 below, then visit SportsLine to see Bernier's picks for the Travers Stakes.
2021 Travers Stakes contenders, odds, field
Essential Quality 4-5
Midnight Bourbon 9-2
Dynamic One 6-1
Miles D 12-1
King Fury 15-1