Happy Saturday everyone, and Happy Whitney Day at the Spa. NBC is providing coverage of today's Grade 1 Whitney Stakes beginning at 5:00 PM Eastern, which should also include coverage of the Test Stakes (Post time: 2:14 pm). The Whitney is scheduled to go to post at 5:46. The Whitney, now carrying a $1.5 million purse, features a good field of nine.
|1||Will Take Charge||L. Saez||D.W. Lukas||4/1|
|2||Prayer for Relief||J. Rosario||D. Romans||20/1|
|3||Moreno||J. Alvarado||E. Guillot||10/1|
|4||Itsmyluckyday||P. Lopez||E. Plesa||12/1|
|5||Palace Malice||J. Velazquez||T. Pletcher||Even|
|6||Departing||R. Albarado||A. Stall||6/1|
|7||Romansh||J. Ortiz||T. Albertranni||10/1|
|8||Golden Ticket||J. Leparoux||K. McPeek||20/1|
|9||Last Gunfighter||J. Castellano||C. Brown||15/1|
Some thoughts on the Whitney and other races at Saratoga today:
Palace Malice is a deserving favorite coming in off of four straight victories and looking every bit the part of the top contender for this fall's Breeders' Cup Classic, but this field does offer some good challenges. The great thing about Palace Malice in 2014 as opposed to 2013, is the level of consistency he's bringing to each of his races - the Curlin colt just keeps churning out top effort after top effort, something other horses in the Classic division have been unable to duplicate this season. It seems like he's taken that "next step" in his development this year.
Will Take Charge has struggled a bit this year with only a win in the G2-Oaklawn Handicap on the resume for 2014, along with three seconds and a sixth place finish. I suppose that's not really "struggling" when you're first or second in four graded stakes races, but I think there were some expectations that Will Take Charge would have the kind of season Palace Malice is putting up in 2014. With an even money morning line on Palace Malice and 4/1 odds on Will Take Charge, there could be a lot of value in the Lukas trainee coming up big today.
- While I'd never play Prayer for Relief in the win spot on any of my tickets in this race, he seems like a horse you've got to include in any kind of trifecta or superfecta play. He's never been a Grade 1 kind of horse but he'll cash checks pretty consistently.
- Depending on how hard Lopez wants to push Itsmyluckyday right from the gate, Moreno should be able to get a nice, easy lead through the first quarter mile; there's really not any other horse in the field that wants to challenge for the lead unless they are taken out of their normal routine. Moreno hasn't won a race in 13 months, so I'm not sure I'd be too concerned with him wiring this field, but he'll at least get the chance.
- I was a big fan of Itsmyluckyday last year heading into the Kentucky Derby, so it's nice to see this colt back on the track racing again after dealing with significant injuries last summer. I'm not sure he's at the level to beat horse like Palace Malice or Will Take Charge at this stage of his career, but I'm certainly hoping he can continue to run some good races over the rest of his career.
- Filly sprinters line up in the Test Stakes, and it is wide, wide open, and one of the top betting races on the card. While I don't love the fact that she drew down on the inside of this big field, I do like the fact that Fiftyshadesofgold is a perfect two-for-two at today's seven furlong trip. At 8/1, she intrigues me in a race I could see going a number of different ways.
Good luck with all your bets!