The Whitney Handicap, one of the most prestigious races of the Saratoga Meet, is being drawn again, and the winner will receive a guaranteed spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. This 9-furlong dirt Grade 1 race is the pinnacle of competition for older male routers. The final tally of awardees is just astounding. Alydar, Easy Goer, Awesome Again, Medaglia d’Oro, and Blame were just a few of the horses that triumphed. Some more recent winners are Honor Code by Shug McGaughey, Frosted by Kiaran McLaughlin, Gun Runner by Steve Asmussen, a pair of runners trained by Bob Baffert, and Knicks Go by Brad Cox, who also trained him last year. As it’s Whitney-Time again, you can count on it being a memorable occasion.
Whitney Award – #1 Americanrevolution (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: T. Pletcher):
There are rumors that the well-connected will skip this contest in favor of others. With the combined forces, that is a wise move. Son of Constitution, Todd Pletcher’s horse, has a lot going for him, but he may not be “Classic” material despite his many strengths. The regular rider on the 4-year-old, Luis Saez, is a highly skilled professional. We’ll have to see what the HOF selector says. Two other really good runners have pulled in close behind him. If he does decide to sprint, his greatest chance is to hit the board merely.
Whitney Award – #2 Hot Rod Charlie (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: D. O’Neill):
The “Guys in the Boat” will be to the track to root for their favorite runner once again. Expect a lot of noise and excitement as their son from Oxbow loads in the gate. Fans’ favorite rough and tumble colt keeps on winning against sky-high expectations. This last month, Doug O’Neill had him working at Keeneland. The Southern California trainer is now using “Blinkers” to aid concentration. Flavien Prat has re-joined the team, and his late-race performance will be closely watched as the field makes its last bend toward home. The rivalry for “Charlie” has been fierce since he won the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). Del Mar’s BC Classic, in British Columbia; Dubai’s World Cup, in Dubai This will be his toughest challenge yet, as it involves multiple racial groups. With a victory, he will be thrust into the center of the Classics debate.
Whitney Award – #3 Zoomer (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: M. Casse):
I have yet to learn how many horses have run in the Whitney throughout the years and then won this Grade 1 race at Saratoga after winning a Claiming race. Surely only a few! Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse hopes his new addition will not end up as the caboose of the boxcar. Joel Rosario will be working with the Curlin gelding, so there’s that. It’s tough to argue in favor of this one… however the speed score from the most recent triumph was quite respectable. He has a cool name, at least…
Whitney Award – #4 Olympiad (Jky: J. Alvarado/Trn: B. Mott):
The son of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, Speightstown has won seven of his ten starts. good by any means… He has yet to earn a G1 score despite his many “Graded” wins. Is this Saturday going to be the day? He can handle the distance, and he’s been doing good work at the Oklahoma Track, so it’s not out of the question. Mott can strategize with the best of them, and Junior Alvarado is allowed to shine alongside him once again. This is encouraging news for a jockey who only sometimes receives the recognition he merits. The colt poses a threat, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his superior tracking skills place him where he needs to be when the time comes. The is a serious competitor who deserves a lot of credit.
#5 Happy Saver (Jky: J. Velazquez/Trn: T. Pletcher):
This horse started his career perfectly, winning each of his first five races. At the 2017 Suburban (G2), he finished third behind Max Player and Mystic Guide, ending his streak of success. Since then, he has finished in second place in four consecutive races. Todd Pletcher’s trainer has given him some challenging company, including the horse on his inside. In the Alysheba S. (G2), which took place in May on the Derby undercard, both horses ran competitive races. He may not have won the Met Mile (G1) race, but he still learned a lot from trying. John Velazquez may be left to pick up the pieces if the “co-favorites” are ultimately unable to pose a threat. I wouldn’t leave this 5-year-old off the list of performers.
#6 Life Is Good (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: T. Pletcher):
The key inquiry is as follows… Can LIG survive for an entire 1 1/8th? If you agree, then make this your Saturday wager on horse racing betting. After the positive test for Baffert-Medina Spirit, WinStar and Company delivered their son of Into Mischief to Todd Pletcher, and it’s safe to say that Pletcher received a ringer. He defeated Cox’s Knicks Go at Gulfstream Park in late January, so we know he’s capable of running this distance. Irad Ortiz’s chances of setting the pace depend on how fast he can get out of the gate with this runner. Nonetheless, he will be under constant duress throughout the race, as in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan. If one is patient and the tempo is correct, Pletcher will undoubtedly come out on top. Do you agree that this race has the potential to be incredible?