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Las Vegas, NV - Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York will play host to the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes on Saturday, August 8. The richest purse at Saratoga - $1.25 million will be on the line for horses three year old and upward willing to go 1 1/8 miles on Saratoga's dirt track - seven of which are Grade 1 winners already.
A loaded field of 10 will give it a go in the Whitney - race 9 on Saratoga's busy Saturday schedule. Post time is 5:46 PM .Here is a peek into the past performances of all 10 entries for this intriguing and lucrative Grade 1 stakes - a "Win and You're In" qualifier to the $5 million Classic later this year.
Honor Code 3-1 - Shug McGaughey trainee has eight career starts with five wins and two second place finishes. He was on the Triple Crown trail last year before sustaining an injury to his right leg and was out of racing between March and November of 2014. He finished second in the Grade 1 Champaign Stakes in October, 2013, won the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct a month later and has just five starts since - an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Aqueduct, a win in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in March and a terrific score last time out in the Grade 1 Met Mile at Belmont Park June 6 being the best results. He had a bit of a hiccup two starts back - a fifth in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes May 1 at Churchill Downs but looked terrific in a bounceback effort last time out. Honor Code has won three of his last four starts and hopes to keep the good fortune going Saturday when he leaves from the rail with Javier Castellano guiding him.
Tonalist 4-1 - Christophe Clement trained colt has placed in 10 of 12 career starts and has won two of his last four starts. He enters off a pair of runner-up finishes - in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap July 4 and the Grade 1 Met Mile behind Honor Code which followed a win by 3 3/4 lengths in the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes with a scintillating 111 Beyer Speed Figure May 2. He ended his 2014 campaign with a fifth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, another win in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park September 27, a third in the Grade 3 Travers Stakes, a second in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stake and a career defining win over California Chrome in the 2014 Belmont Stakes. He also had a great win in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes May 10 of last year. Tonalist now has five wins, four seconds and a third place finish and has posted victory on some of the biggest stages. He has been first or second in all three races this year and hopes for a similar effort Saturday from gate 2 with John Velazquez aboard the morning line second choice.
Lea 9-2 - Bill Mott trainee colt has 16 career starts and has hit the board in all except a fourth in the 2013 Forego Stakes and a fifth in the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland that same year. He returned after nearly a year away from racing in January and won the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Stakes and has continued to look good since his return. Last time out was a second behind Noble Bird in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap June 13 which followed a third in a Group 1 race at Meydan in March and a second in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap in February. Lea looks for his first win since January, although he has placed in six straight starts, when he leaves from gate 7 with Joel Rosario aboard.
Noble Bird 5-1 - Mark Casse trained colt has four wins and three second place finishes in 10 career starts and has looked terrific the last five or so months. Last time out was a career best effort - a win in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap June 13 which followed a second in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes in May and two Allowance Optional Claiming scores this past spring. Noble Bird looks to keep the upward trend going and enters in career best form. Shaun Bridgmohan gets the call aboard the fourth betting choice from post 3.
Liam's Map 5-1 - has just five career starts for trainer Todd Pletcher - four wins and a second place finish. He makes his graded stakes debut Saturday on the heels of three straight wins - an Allowance Optional Claiming June 19, the minor Harlan's Holiday Stakes in December and an Allowance in November. Liam' Map has looked sensational so far in his career but takes a huge step up in competition Saturday. Mike Smith has been tabbed to ride from gate 4.
V.E. Day 8-1 - James Jerkins trained colt was last seen running an OK second in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational June 6. That followed a disappointing eleventh in the Breeders' Cup Classic and a fifth in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in September. He made his graded stakes debut one to remember however- a win in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga August 23. That win followed three straight victories including the minor Curlin Stakes July 25, an Allowance and maiden score. Overall V.E. Day has four wins and two second place finishes in 10 career starts but has placed in just one of his last four starts (last time out). Junior Alvarado will attempt to guide VE Day back to the promise land from gate 6 Saturday.
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Moreno 12-1 - defending champion in this race looked good in his first four starts this year - a terrific win over Shared Belief among others in the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic April 18, a third in the Grade 2 New Orleans Stakes at Fair Grounds March 28, a second behind Shared Belief in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 7 and another second in the Grade 2 Californian May 30. Last time out was a bit of a stumble however - an eighth in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita June 27. Other good results include the terrific win at 10-1 odds in the 2015 Whitney Stakes in front running fashion, a second in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga August 30, a second in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap July 5 and a third behind Game On Dude and Imperative in the 2014 Charles Town Classic last April. Moreno has four wins, nine seconds and four third place finishes in 28 career starts looks to bounce back from an uncharacteristic effort last time out. Cornelio Velasquez gets the mount Saturday from post 5.
Coach Inge 15-1 - Todd Pletcher trained gelding has 11 career starts with four wins, two seconds and two third place finishes. He failed to place in his first three career starts but has looked very good since however. Last time out was a third in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap July 4 which followed a pair of wins - the best of which coming in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational June 6. He has placed in his last eight starts overall with four wins over that span and looks for his first Grade 1 score Saturday. Irad Ortiz has the mount from gate 8.
Wicked Strong 20-1 - returned to action after six months away and finished a close fourth in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap March 7 and followed that with a third in the Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct April 25, a fifth in the Grade 1 Met Mile in June and a second last time out in the minor Forbidden Apple Stakes July 11. He recorded a second to V.E. Day in the Travers Stakes last August 23 and a good win over Tonalist in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy July 26, 2014. He also had consecutive fourth place finishes in last year's Triple Crown races - in the Belmont Stakes and in the Kentucky Derby and posted an eye-opening win - in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 5. Wicked Strong has 15 career starts with three wins, three seconds and two third place finishes and has been a tad up and down lately. He will be after his first win in nearly a year Saturday when he lines up in post 9 with Luis Saez in the reins.
Normandy Invasion 30-1 - had a second in the 2013 Grade 1 Wood Memorial and an OK fourth in the 2013 Kentucky Derby for trainer Chad Brown but has been up and down since. He enters having recorded runner-up finishes in three of his last four starts - the minor Carl Hanford Memorial last time out July 18, an Allowance Optional Claiming July 1 - both results at Delaware Park and the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap in March with a tenth in the Grade 1 Met Mile sandwiched in there. Normandy Invasion has two wins and five seconds in 11 career starts and looks for his first stakes win Saturday - from the outside post with Kerwin Clark guiding him.
Race 9 on Saratoga Race Course's Saturday card with a Post Time of 5:46 PM.
|1||Honor Code||J. Castellano||C. McGaughey III|
|2||Tonalist||J. Velazquez||C. Clement|
|3||Noble Bird||S. Bridgmohan||M. Casse|
|4||Liam's Map||M. Smith||T. Pletcher|
|5||Moreno||C. Velasquez||E. Guillot|
|6||V. E. Day||J. Alvarado||J. Jerkens|
|7||Lea||J. Rosario||W. Mott|
|8||Coach Inge||I. Ortiz, Jr.||T. Pletcher|
|9||Wicked Strong||L. Saez||J. Jerkens|
|10||Normandy Invasion||K. Clark||J. Jones|
|Race Tracks||Time (EST)|