Palace Malice will come into Saturday’s $1.5 million Whitney Handicap (G1) riding a four-race winning streak and was installed as the even money morning line favorite in a field of nine.
The Whitney is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race, with the winner earning an automatic starting spot and paid expenses for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.
Palace Malice will break from the five post with trainer Todd Pletcher giving a leg up to Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez. Pletcher won last year’s Whitney with Cross Traffic and won the race in 2007 with Lawyer Ron and 2002 with Left Bank.
The colt is no stranger to the Spa, breaking his maiden over the main track in 2012. Last summer he won the Jim Dandy (G1) and then ran fourth in the Travers Stakes (G1). The colt has won seven of his 16 starts in his career and is coming off a sharp win in the Met Mile (G1) in his last outing on June 7.
The D. Wayne Lukas trained Will Take Charge is the second choice on the morning line at 4-1. The colt has won just one of his five starts this year, winning the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in April. The colt was sixth in the Alysheba (G2) at Churchill Downs and second in the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) in his last two starts.
The colt will break from the rail and will be reunited with jockey Luis Saez, who was replaced by Gary Stevens in his last two starts, but the Hall of Fame jockey is on the sidelines after knee replacement surgery.
The Al Stall trainee Departing is the 6-1 third choice on the morning line. A winner of seven of his 11 starts, the gelding checked in third in the Stephen Foster, beaten two lengths for the top spot. Last year he won the Illinois, West Virginia and Ohio Derbies.
Moreno (10-1) nearly pulled off a big upset in last year’s Travers, beaten a nose by Will Take Charge at odds of 31-1. The gelding has lost eight races in a row since winning the Dwyer (G2) at Belmont Park last July.
Completing the Whitney field is Prayer for Relief (20-1), Itsmyluckyday (12-1), Romansh (10-1), Golden Ticket (20-1) and Last Gunfighter (15-1).
The Whitney will be televised live on NBC at 5:00 pm ET along with the $500,000 Test (G1) for three-year-old fillies. The Test is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
The 11-race card on Saturday also incudes the $100,000 De La Rose, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) and the $100,000 Lure.
The $1.5 million Whitney Handicap (Post time 5:46 pm ET on NBC)
|1||Will Take Charge
||L Saez||D Wayne Lukas||4-1|
|2||Prayer for Relief
||J Rosario||D L. Romans||20-1|
||J Alvarado||E J. Guillot||10-1|
||P Lopez||E Plesa, Jr.||12-1|
||J R. Velazquez||T A. Pletcher||1-1|
||R Albarado||A M. Stall, Jr.||6-1|
||J L. Ortiz||T Albertrani||10-1|
||J R. Leparoux||K G. McPeek||20-1|
||J Castellano||C C. Brown||15-1|
Michael’s Saratoga Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations. Mike has been handicapping the New York racing circuit on a daily basis for nearly three decades. Get the remainder of the meeting for just $89.95!