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Las Vegas, NV - Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York will be the scene of the biggest race of the weekend - the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap which goes on Saturday, August 2. A stellar purse of $1.5 million will be on the line for horses three years old and upward willing to go 1 1/8 miles on Saratoga's main track.
A field of nine have been confirmed for the Whitney - race 10 on Saratoga's busy Saturday schedule. Post time is 5:46 PM. Here is a brief look into the past performances of all nine entries for this lucrative Grade 1 stakes -a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Classic and a battle that looks like it will come down to two horses.
Palace Malice - Todd Pletcher trained colt was a disappointing sixth in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic but has reeled off four straight graded stakes wins since - by 9 3/4 lengths in the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes May 11, by 4 3/4 lengths in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap over Normandy Invasion at Fair Grounds March 29, in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap March 8 and last time out over Goldencents in the Grade 1 Met Mile at Belmont Park June 7. Last year he parlayed his enormous 3 1/4 length win at 13-1 odds in the Belmont Stakes with a win over Will Take Charge and Moreno by 9 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy July 27. He also had a twelfth in the Kentucky Derby, a fourth in the Grade 1 Travers in August and a good second behind Ron the Greek in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup September 28 last year. Four straight wins overall definitely has Palace Malice looking like the one to beat Saturday. He departs from post 5 as the overwhelming even money favorite with John Velazquez aboard.
Will Take Charge - 2013 Eclipse Award winner for three year old colts was one of the only horses to race all three legs of the Triple Crown last year finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby, seventh in the Preakness and tenth in the Belmont. This after an impressive win in the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn Park in March. He went on to a two race win streak after the Triple Crown - in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx September 21 and a tremendous win in the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga August 24 after a good second ahead of Moreno and behind Palace Malice in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes July 27. Will Take Charge ended his 2013 campaign with a win in the Grade 1 Clark at Churchill Downs November 29 and a second behind Mucho Macho Man in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He has five starts in 2014 - a second in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream February 9, another second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap a terrific win in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in April and an uncharacteristic sixth two back in the Grade 2 Alesheba Stakes at Churchill Downs. Last time out - you guessed it - another second in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs June 14. Will Take Charge has been competitive as ever this year except for one bad outing - more of the same is expected this weekend. He leaves from the rail with Luis Saez in the saddle from the rail as the 4-1 second choice.
Departing - Albert Stall trained gelding has just two starts in 2014 - a decent third last time out in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster right behind Will Take Charge June 14 after a nice win in an Allowance Optional Claiming on that same track in April and seven months away. He was great in 2013 winning five of eight starts including the Grade 2 Super Derby, the Grade 1 West Virginia Derby and the Grade 3 Illinois Derby as well - he also raced to an OK sixth in last year's Preakness. Departing now has seven wins and two thirds in 11 career starts - impressive and will leave from post 6 with Robby Albarado in the irons at 6-1 odds.
Romansh - Thomas Albertini trained colt is coming off disappointing fifth in the Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont Park July 5 after a decent third behind Palace Malice and Goldencents in the Grade 1 Met Mile June 7 with a 108 Beyer Speed Figure, a terrific win in the Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct March 22, a very disappointing last of eleven in the uber-competitive Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream February 9 and a nice 9 /4 length win with a 110 Beyer Speed Figure in the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct November 2. This after failing to place in his first two graded stakes tries. Romansh has four wins and two third place finishes in 11 career starts but has won two of his last five overall. Jose Ortiz has been tabbed to ride 10-1 fourth choice from gate 7.
Moreno - was last seen running a good second in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap July 5 which followed a distant twelfth in the Grade 1 Met Mile June 7, an OK fourth in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special May 16 and a decent third behind Game On Dude and Imperative in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic April 19. He ended 2013 with a disappointing tenth in the Breeders' Cup. The Eric Guillot pupil won the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes in impressive fashion by seven lengths last July 6 and followed that with a respectable third behind Palace Malice and Will Take Charge in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes July 27. He had a pair of good seconds at the end of the summer before his Breeders' Cup experience as well - in the Grade 1 Travers behind Will Take Charge and ahead of Orb and in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx September 21. Moreno had looked just average before a good effort in the Suburban - he looks to build off that finish. He leaves from post 3 with Junior Alvarado in the reins at 12-1 odds.
Itsmyluckyday - enters on a nice three race win streak including the Grade 3 Salvator Mile Stakes last time out July 6 at Monmouth Park and two minor stakes races on that same track. Before that was a fourth in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in March and a DNF thanks to a pelvic fracture in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park June 16. He finished a very good second in last year's Preakness Stakes behind Oxbow as the fifth choice at 10-1, had a second behind Orb in the Florida Derby and a win over Shanghai Bobby by two lengths in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes last January 26 with a fifteenth in the Kentucky Derby sandwiched in there. Itsmyluckyday enters in terrific form and will have Paco Lopez guiding him from post 4 at 12-1 odds.
Whitney Handicap betting online at Saratoga Race Course with OffTrackBetting.com
Last Gunfighter - Chad Brown trained colt had a six race win streak snapped last July with a respectable second in the 2013 Suburban Handicap behind Flat Out at Belmont Park. He returned to the winner's circle in the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park August 18 but fell back to a fifth in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and another fifth in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Since that time Last Gunfighter has two straight wins - the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup in November and the minor Mountainview Handicap at Penn National in his first start of 2014 while earning a Beyer Speed Figure over 100 in both races. His only other start this year was an ugly ninth last time out in the Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont Park July 5. He has placed in 14 of 17 career starts - nine wins, three seconds and two third place finishes - impressive indeed but is coming off a career worst performance. Javier Castellano rides from the outside post at 15-1 odds.
Prayer for Relief - veteran Dale Romans pupil was very good at this time last year - a win in the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap in June and a pair of seconds - in the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap and the Texas Mile but he has struggled a tad since. Last time out was a decent third in the Grade 2 Suburban July 5 after an eighth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs June 14 and a good second in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special May 16. Before that was a fourth in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap April 12, a sixth in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap and an OK third in the minor Louisiana Handicap. His last win came in December - in the minor Tenacious Handicap at Fair Grounds. He hopes to break a six race losing streak and will have Joel Rosario aboard at 20-1 odds from gate.
Golden Ticket - 2012 Travers winner - Kenneth McPeek trainee won the minor Prairie Meadows Handicap July 27, 2013 by eight lengths and had an Allowance Optional Claiming score in May and a second in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap sandwiched in there. He has continued to be a tad inconsistent since then - a good second behind Goldencents in the Breeders' Cup Mile came after a fourth in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes here in September. Golden Ticket has five starts in 2014 - a fourth last time out in the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap, a disappointing fifth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster, a good second in the Grade 2 Alysheba May 2, a fourth in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap and a decent second behind Palace Malice in the Gulfstream Park Handicap March 8. Golden Ticket has five wins, eight seconds and three third place finishes in 26 career starts and has been a bit tough to figure out the last year or so. Julien Leparoux gets the mount from gate at 20-1 odds.
Race 10 on Saratoga Race Course's Saturday card with a Post Time of 5:46 PM.
|1||Will Take Charge||L. Saez||D. Lukas|
|2||Prayer for Relief||J. Rosario||D. Romans|
|3||Moreno||J. Alvarado||E. Guillot|
|4||Itsmyluckyday||P. Lopez||E. Plesa, Jr.|
|5||Palace Malice||J. Velazquez||T. Pletcher|
|6||Departing||R. Albarado||A. Stall, Jr.|
|7||Romansh||J. Ortiz||T. Albertrani|
|8||Golden Ticket||J. Leparoux||K. McPeek|
|9||Last Gunfighter||J. Castellano||C. Brown|
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