Geo has made some great calls in some of the biggest races. Only a few weeks ago he was all over Cyberknife in The Haskell and had the exacta and also the triple ice cold. Fresh off a trip to Saratoga Geo does his usual deep dive into this year’s Whitney Stakes at Saratoga.
There’s one thing for certain, we know that the summer season of thoroughbred racing is in absolute full swing when we have arrived at Whitney Stakes weekend. This year’s installment although just a six horse field, is intriguing. I can remember watching my first Whitney back in 1978 when I was 15 years old. Although it’s been 44 years, I can still remember the race like it was yesterday. That Whitney was won by the great Alydar after he ran 2nd to Affirmed in all 3 Triple Crown races. Alydar simply blew away the field that day coming from well off the pace to win by open lengths.
Inaugurated back in 1928, we are closing into 100 years of history and the anticipation for the race seems to grow with each passing year. Of course for a number of years, this race is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, its “Win And You’re In” label granting an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup classic. Speaking of Win And You’re In, there are no better recaps of all the Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” domestic races than on Past The Wire TV. Don’t miss the Whitney edition Monday and check out the American Theorum edition here:
As a handicapper, although I am very familiar with all of these horses, I needed to go back and watch the replays of all of their 2021 and 2022 starts. It was a great challenge to ultimately be decisive and provide my precise order of finish. All of these starters have proven themselves over the racetrack. Here is my breakdown and my precise order of finish so you can be as informed as possible to make your very best window decision. It’s an absolute must watch, make sure you tune in and let’s make some money!
#6 Life is Good:
Yeah, life has been really good for this colt, and no matter how much I tried to find a way to feel confident about making a stand to defeat him, I simply came up empty. There’s very little doubt that he’ll be the post time favorite, and for so many specific reasons, deservingly so. He began his career as a juvenile in late 2020 on the West Coast and for the most part, he’s never looked back. 9 lifetime races, 7 dynamic wins and an absolute dogfight 2nd place finish to superstar Jackie’s Warrior over this same Saratoga strip in the Grade 1 Allen Jerkens. He performed in game fashion coming off a 5+ month layoff. His only off the board race earlier this year, across the globe at the Dubai World Cup. His resume includes multiple Grade 1’s and multiple Grade 2’s. He’s as honest as you will ever find a four-year-old to be. Wondering about this 9 furlong distance? No worries, go ahead and watch his performance at the Pegasus World Cup at the beginning of the year at Gulfstream Park where he completely dominated Knicks Go, who beforehand was simply smashing everyone else at this level. He will be ridden by Irad Ortiz and trained by Todd Pletcher, who has three horses from his stable entered here and is seeking his 4th Whitney Stakes victory. In this guy’s 9 career starts, he has yet to see even money pricing on the board, think about that for a second or two. He’s faced some of the biggest names in racing. He’s fast out of the gate, simply lightning fast, so expect him to be entirely forward placed early on. He should have the lead and never lose it; however, since a few of these colts have exhibited quality speed in their own way, I’m feeling even if he’s confronted, he will get into another gear and still boss this field. His Beyers are a clear indication of his brilliance, and why it was nearly impossible to not label him as the horse to beat. Irad Ortiz has won this great race twice (2018 Diversify, 2020 Improbable) and he will ride this colt as confident as he ever has. He’s my Top Choice, significant win contender.
#2 Hot Rod Charlie:
Perhaps this was one of my most difficult decisions to make, to be decisive about my 2nd choice. It was a very involved process, but I landed on him as the #1 threat to Life Is Good. There’s no doubt he’s been through his share of wars, he’s as much a gritty hard hitter as you will find. I am still amazed at his effort in the 2021 Belmont Stakes where he ran an incredibly game race considering the distance and the fractions he had set. Then he wired the field capturing the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby posting a simply dynamic 111 Beyer. This colt has already surpassed over $5,500,000 in his career, easily the highest purse earner in the field. He’s getting blinkers back on and he comes into this race with 4 well balanced workouts at Keeneland, one each week over the last month. Flavian Prat is up for trainer Doug O’Neill and this son of OxBow seems to be sitting on a big race. He’s proven to show exceptional tactical speed, something he’ll need to stay close to my top choice. If the situation presents itself, he’s also capable of seizing the lead early on himself. I’m a big fan of horses that show grit when they are in a big mix, that’s why he’s my 2nd choice and a win contender if Life Is Good doesn’t fire his best. This exacta may be considered too short for some people, but if you want to cash your ticket, it’s your very best investment, and this guy is a must use in your other betting gimmicks as well.
Purchased for $700,000 as a yearling, this son of Speightstown has been as good as you will find training this calendar year. Because of his brilliant run, he’s in the conversation for Horse of the Year but for him to achieve that, he’ll need to win this race. He’s won all 5 of his starts this year and he’s 5 for 5 going around 2 turns. Hall Of Famer trainer Bill Mott again saddles Junior Alvarado, his regular rider. This horse has won 7 of his 10 career races and has done everything they have asked of him, with the exception of winning a Grade 1. He has raced over the Saratoga oval three times, and he’s hit the board each time, winning once. He comes into this race with a series of sharp works over the track, so he must be considered fresh, fit and very dangerous. If Life Is Good and Hot Rod Charlie get into a sizzling speed duel, it is very likely this guy will have the first run at them. I’m a big fan of Bill Mott, he has yet to win a Whitney Stakes and many will be rooting for him; however, as much as I tried, I feel it would be best to list him as my 3rd choice and most likely to complete the triple wager. Lastly, his Beyers definitely put him in the mix, and his jockey Alvarado won this race with Moreno back in 2014, but he needs to overturn the Grade 1 class of my top 2 to get it done.
#5 Happy Saver:
This son of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver ( 2010) who was also trained by Todd Pletcher, is one of Pletcher’s three entries in this race, and he too has a very impressive resume. He began his career winning his first 5 races, never an easy task, and through his 10 career races, he has never been off the board. Believe it or not, he’s 9 for 9 in hitting the exacta racing on fast tracks, the only time he failed to make 1st or 2nd money was in the slop at Belmont Park and that day he was 4-wide on both turns. He has also raced well at Saratoga and he should be considered the very best closer in the race. He’s a Grade 1 winner, and he was also 2nd to world class speedster Flightline, so he cannot be dismissed entirely from your exotics wagering. I would lean more towards your triples and superfectas, as he would need to have a perfect storm develop to do enough to upset this field. He’s a very good racehorse, he’s just facing some of the very best in training. Johnny Velazquez in the saddle is always appealing, he’s won this great race twice, in 2007 with Lawyer Ron and he repeated the very next year with Commentator in 2008.
#1 American Revolution:
This son of Constitution was purchased for $275,000 as a yearling and has now won 5 of his 9 career starts. He’s a winner at this distance, a winner at Saratoga and a winner of a Grade 1 (The Cigar Mile) last December. He’s one of Pletcher’s three entries, and he’s got world class rider Luis Saez in the saddle. On the outside looking in, there’s lots to like about him, but when you dig down deep, you’ll see that he’s already been beaten by a few of his opponents and he really didn’t have an excuse for his less than stellar showing in the Blame at Churchill Downs. Again, lots to like about him as a racehorse but I view my 4 above to be more seasoned and better contenders for this prize. Consider your deeper gimmicks, but to me that’s it.
This 6-year-old gelding has been fun to watch over the years, he’s been in the money 20 times in his 37 career starts. This son of Curlin is what we call a professional racehorse, and he’s got strong armed Joel Rosario in the silks. He is 2 for 3 at this distance but his career best Beyer was in the mud at Aqueduct and this is clearly a significant step up in class. Someone has to run last in this field of six, and on paper he’s the most likely to do so. I’m passing on him.
Well there you have it, enjoy the race and let’s go and make some money!
I want to thank you again in advance for your continued readership.
For more on Whitney Day at Saratoga check out Saratoga Today on Past The Wire TV