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Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap is on tap for this Saturday, August 3 from Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Horses three years old and upward will be featured as they go 1 1/8 miles on Saratoga's dirt track for a generous purse of $750,000.
A strong field of nine will line up in the Whitney - race 10 in Saratoga's Saturday card. Post time is approximately 5:45 PM. Here is a look into the past performances of all nine combatants for this Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event for the Classic, which will be run Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
Fort Larned - is the defending champion in this race and looked very good at the start of 2012 with wins in the Challenger Stakes and the Grade 3 Skip Away Stakes at Gulfstream but had a disappointing eighth at the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs June 16 for his worst result of last year. He won the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap and followed that with last year's Whitney score at 7-1 odds. He went on to a decent third in the Grade 3 Jockey Club Gold Cup in September and then recorded his best ever result - a terrific win in the Breeders' Cup Classic to end his 2012 campaign. He started 2013 off poorly - a sixth in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap was followed by a fifth in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in April. Last time out was another great win however - at the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap by an impressive 6 1/4 lengths against many of his Whitney opposition. He will start from post 3 and is the 7-5 favorite on the morning line.
Cross Traffic - Todd Pletcher trained colt has just four career starts - two wins at Gulfstream Park to start his career including a maiden score in his debut January 24 and a nice Allowance Optional Claiming score March 10 by 7 1/2 lengths. Last time out was a great second behind Sahara Sky in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap May 27 at Belmont Park after a successful graded stakes debut - a good second behind Flat Out in the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes at Belmont Park April 27 with a Beyer Speed Figure over 115. He may not be the most experienced of the contenders but he has looked terrific in his short career! Cross Traffic is the second choice on the morning line at 5-2 odds and will start from post 4 with John Velazquez aboard.
Ron the Greek - looked very good in 2012 for trainer Bill Mott with two wins and three second place finishes in five starts before a sixth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park September 29 and an OK fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic in November. Among the wins last year were the Grade 1 Steven Foster Handicap and the Santa Anita Handicap while the seconds came in the Florida Sunshine Millions, the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap and the 2012 version of this very race. Trainer Bill Mott saw Ron the Greek record a repeat win by 11 1/4 lengths in the Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes January 19 at Gulfstream but was fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 2. His last two starts have been OK thirds - last time out in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster June 15 and before that in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic April 20. He has just one win this year and is the co-third choice on the morning line for the Whitney at 6-1 odds.
Mucho Macho Man - had not raced since a seventh place finish in January in the Sunshine Millions Classic before a third in the minor Criminal Type Stakes at Belmont Park June 14. This after a terrific second to Fort Larned in the Breeders' Cup Classic, a very good second in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga September 1 and a win at the Grade 2 Suburban by an easy two and a half lengths last July 7. He placed in six of seven starts in 2012 before the layoff and was third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. So we know that he is not scared to be in there with the best! He has six wins, five seconds and five third place finishes in 20 career starts. He, like Ron the Greek goes off at 6-1 odds on the morning line and starts from post 2.
Whitney Invitational Handicap betting at Saratoga Race Course with OffTrackBetting.com
Alpha - finished second to Gemologist in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial in April 2012 after two straight wins - the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on February 4 and the Count Fleet Stakes in January. Alpha had a disappointing Kentucky Derby finishing twelfth but bounced back with a nice win in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes on July 28 and a win in a dead heat in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga. He wasn't great after that - a sixth in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby and an ugly twelfth in the Breeders' Cup Classic to end his 2012 campaign. Alpha has three starts in 2013 - all disappointing results. From Dubai's Meydan Racecourse he recorded a twelfth in a Group 2 race in February and a fifth in the Grade 2 Godolphin Mile in March before returning home and finishing a pedestrian fourth in the Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont Park July 6. He is 10-1 on the morning line for the competitive Whitney.
Successful Dan - half brother of Wise Dan was... successful last year until injury put him on the sidelines in June. He has won four of his last seven races including the Grade 2 Greenbrier Fayette Stakes in October 2010 and the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes last May at Churchill Downs. He returned to action April 21 to a nice win in the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland after a 10 month layoff and a second place finish in the Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap behind Fort Larned way back in June of 2012. Last time out was a disappointing fourth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs June 15. In 13 career starts, Successful Dan has eight wins, two seconds and one third place finish - not bad! Successful Dan is currently the third longest shot in the field at 15-1 odds however.
Fast Falcon - Has five starts in 2013 with two seconds and two third place finishes. He started this year with a seventh in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap and followed that with a pair of good seconds - at the minor Albert the Great Stakes behind Percussion in May and in an Allowance Optional Claiming in March. He has registered third place finishes in his last two starts in Grade 2 stakes races - the Suburban last time out July 6 and the Brooklyn Handicap before that June 7. He had a third in the highly competitive Grade 1 Travers last August as well but also recorded a fifth in the Grade 1 Jockey Gold Cup September 29, an eighth in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap November 23 and an OK second in an Allowance Optional Claiming December 27. Fast Falcon has certainly been up and down in his career but has been knocking on the door his last four starts.
Csaba - is a eight-time winner from South Florida and comes into the Whitney having won five of his last seven starts - the Grade 3 Hal's Hope at Gulfstream January 13, the minor Harlan's Holiday by 3 3/4 lengths over Delegation December 16, the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Handicap November 24 at Calder, the minor Tropical Park Derby by a stunning 14 lengths also at Calder October 13 and in the minor Memorial Handicap at Calder May 25. The only blemished over that span came last time out - a respectable third in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park July 6 and a fifth in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap in February at Gulfstream. He has been lightly raced this year but has two wins and a second in his four starts in 2013 - there is absolutely no denying his form the last 10 months! He is an intriguing 20-1 - the longest shot in the Whitney field.
Race 10 on Saragota Race Course's Saturday card with a Post Time of 5:45 PM.
|1||Successful Dan||J. Leparoux||C. LoPresti|
|2||Mucho Macho Man||E. Prado||K. Ritvo|
|3||Fort Larned||B. Hernandez, Jr.||I. Wilkes|
|4||Cross Traffic||J. Velazquez||T. Pletcher|
|5||Ron the Greek||J. Lezcano||W. Mott|
|6||Alpha||J. Rosario||K. McLaughlin|
|7||Csaba||L. Saez||P. Gleaves|
|8||Fast Falcon||J. Alvarado||N. Zito|
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