The mile and an eighth Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday drew a field of five headed by the 6-5 Morning Line favorite TOM’S D’ETAT.
In addition to the $750,000 dollar purse, as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, the field will vie for a Win and You’re In spot for the BC Classic.
All five horses in the field have earned at least $1 million in their careers and they are all Stakes Winners. Four of them have a Graded Stakes Victory and three of those have a Grade 1 Win in their past performances.
Here then is a full-field analysis of the Whitney, which is race 9 on a card of 12. Post Time is scheduled for 5:45.
BY MY STANDARDS [ ML 9-2] Trainer: Bret Calhoun. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. This 4-year-old had his three-race Winning streak snapped in the Stephen Foster (G2) when he could not keep up with TOM’S D’ETAT down the stretch. In that race, he got farther behind than usual as he is typically pressing the early pace, but he did clearly beat the rest of the field. He has Won three of four starts at this distance of nine furlongs.
IMPROBABLE [ML 5-2] Trainer: Bob Baffert. Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. He got a big Grade 1 Win last time going ten furlongs in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. He overcame past gate problems to control that race from the start. This, however, is a formidable field and the nine furlongs may not be his best distance, especially on a deep track like Saratoga. He does his best when he sits off the early pace.
CODE OF HONOR [ML 5-2] Trainer Shug McGaughey. Jockey: John Velazquez. Shug has Won the Whitney three times with some very talented horses. CODE OF HONOR returns to his favorite track and a much better distance than his previous start. He recently ran 3rd in the Met Mile (G1) against a field that was more sprint oriented. Last year he Won the Jim Dandy (G2) and the Travers (G1) at Saratoga where he has a perfect record. The surface and the distance suit his late running style and he is likely to be making the last run.
MR. BUFF [ML 12-1] Trainer: John Kimmel . Jockey: Junior Alvarado. The New York-bred has Won twice at Saratoga and has nine career Victories at the mile and an eighth distance, but he has not had any luck when he faces Graded Stakes company. At the very least he will ensure an honest early pace.
TOM’S D’ETAT [ML 6-5] Trainer: Albert Stall Jr. Jockey: Joel Rosario. He is in the finest form of his career while riding a four-race Win streak. There is no question that he is at the top of the Older Male Dirt division especially after his powerful Win in the Stephen Foster when he raced much closer the early lead than usual. Down the stretch he displayed an impressive turn of foot that left the field more than four lengths behind. He will be very hard to beat at Saratoga where he has Won three out of four starts in his career.
Summary: TOM’S D’ETAT showed his versatility in the Stephen Foster when staying closer to the pace than in many of his other Wins. That will help him in the Whitney where he may once again want to take control of the race sooner than later.
The rest of the field is running for 2nd place money if he puts in another top effort.
The Play: As our readers are aware, the Daily Racing Blog always preaches Value, and there is obviously none to be had here. That said, we’re going to throw out a Late Pick 4 for your perusal, beginning with this race.
We are tempted to single #5 TOM’S D’ETAT to start the Pick 4, but will add #3 CODE OF HONOR. He is a good horse and has brought much money and happiness to the DRB.
Moving ahead. Race 10: #5 MISCHIEVOUS ALEX. #2 EIGHT RINGS. #8 THREE TECHNIQUES.
Race 11: #6 SADLERS JOY. #5 CHANNEL MAKER. #1 MARZO.
Race 12: #7 DALIKA. #3 SWEET BYE AND BYE. #2 I’LLHANDLETHECASH.
So that Late .50 cent Pick 4 ticket will be- 2 x 3 x 3 x 3 for a total of $27 dollars. Let’s hope for some Value in the final three legs of this wager.
Best of luck no matter how you play it.