He defeated Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers (G1) and put away Shaman Ghost in the Suburban (G2), and now Keen Ice will attempt to pull off another upset over Gun Runner in Saturday’s $1.2 million Whitney (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday.
The Whitney is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) which will be held at Del Mar on Nov. 4.
The Steve Asmussen trainee Gun Runner is the 4-5 morning line favorite and is currently listed at 11-2 in early Breeders’ Cup Classic betting odds at US Racing.
The colt was second to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup (G1) and then came back to win the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs in his last outing.
Keen Ice has won just three times in 22 career starts but has earned over $3 million and seems to be rounding into good form for Pletcher, who took over the training duties from Dale Romans last year.
The intriguing part of the Whitney is how the race will unfold. Gun Runner took the field gate to wire in the Foster and his last four victors have all come in gate to wire fashion.
However, War Story, Tu Brutus and Discreet Lover are all capable of being in the mix early which could set things up for a Keen Ice upset.
The Whitney is one of five stakes on an outstanding 11-race card at the Spa on Saturday. The $500,000 Test (G1) and $200,000 Waya (G3) are the co-features.
Let’s head out to Saratoga for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Saratoga Race 9 The Whitney G1 Post time 5:46 ET
5 Keen Ice 3-1
6 Gun Runner 4-5
1 War Story 6-1
4 Tu Brutus 8-1
Keen Ice returns to the Spa which produced his biggest win where he upset Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers (G1). The five-year-old was no match for Arrogate and Gun Runner in the Dubai World Cup (G1) where he checked in seventh but returned to the U.S. with a sharp win in the Suburban (G2) at Belmont Park where he upset Shaman Ghost. He earned a career top Beyer in the effort and Pletcher appears to have this guy at the top of his game. He is going to get a good pace set up as there is enough early pace in here to set things up for him.
Gun Runner got run down by Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup but it was a solid effort and he returned to win the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs with a near career top speed fig. The colt’s last four wins have all come in gate to wire fashion and he probably does not get the lead in this spot. He did win the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Risen Star (G2) last year coming from off the pace so he does not need the lead. We watched Arrogate get upset in the San Diego (G2) and we are looking at another very short price on this guy.
War Story tracked the early pace and finished gamely to get the win in the Brooklyn (G2) at 1 ½ miles last out. He won at this distance on the inner track at the Big A last December in the Queen’s County in gate to wire fashion. Breaking from the rail he likely gets sent and will be part of what could be a sharp early pace. He looks headed in the right direction form wise but does not have the class of the top pair.
WIN: Keen Ice to win at 3-1 or better.
EXACTA: 5,6 / 1,4,5,6
TRIFECTA: 5,6 / 1,4,5,6 / 1,2,4,5,6
Get Michael’s Best Plays Report each Saturday which will include all of the U.S. based Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races from now to October and Michael Dempsey’s 2-Day Breeders’ Cup Report.
Michael’s two-day Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the two-day championship event from Del Mar on Nov. 3-4.