A pair of Grade 1 races, the $1.25 million Whitney and $500,000 Test are the highlights of an outstanding 11-race betting card at Saratoga on Saturday.
The Whitney is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge ‘Win and You’re In” race, with the winner earning an automatic starting spot in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland on Oct. 31.
The race drew one of the deepest fields in a race for the handicap division in recent memory, with seven of the nine set to go already Grade 1 winners.
The test drew a field of 10 three-year-old fillies that will go even furlongs on the main track. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner Take Charge Brandi seeks her fifth win in a row.
The races will be televised live on NBC during a one-hour telecast that gets underway at 5:00 p.m. ET.
Honor Code is the 3-1 morning line favorite for the Whitney. The Shug McGaughey trainee is coming off a career best effort winning the Met Mile (G1) in his last start, earning a 112 Beyer Speed Figure. The ridgling has done his best work around one turn, and will get a test here facing a stellar field.
Last year’s Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tonalist is the second choice on the morning line at 4-1. The colt was the beaten favorite in his last start in the Suburban Handicap (G2) where he was beaten a head by Effinex.
Noble Bird (5-1) and Lea (9-2) were separated by a neck last out in the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs. The Mark Casse trained Noble Bird prevailed for his first career stakes win.
Last year’s Whitney winner Moreno is back, but is not getting much attention and is 12-1 on the morning line. The gelding will set the early pace and will likely be hounded early by Liam’s Map (6-1) who has some early zip.
V. E. Day (8-1) has lost four in a row since winning the Travers (G1) at the Spa last summer at 19-1, ending his stablemate Wicked Strong (20-1), who also is in this field and has not won since taking the Jim Dandy (G2) here last summer.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my 10 strongest plays from Del Mar and Saratoga including all of the stakes action.
Let’s head out to the Spa for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Saratoga Race 8 The Test G1 Post time 5:11 ET
3 By the Moon 8-1
2 Cavorting 3-1
1 Irish Jasper 8-1
4 Take Charge Brandi 7-2
Analysis: By the Moon just missed last out in the Acorn (G1) at a mile in a game effort. The filly was bumped coming out of the gate, stalked the early pace, took command heading for home and was nailed late, beaten a neck by Curalina. The winner came back to win the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) via a disqualification in her next outing on July 26.
The Michelle Nevin trainee broke her maiden over the main track in her debut last summer and then ran a distant second to Condo Commando in the Spinaway (G1) in her first go against winners, catching a sloppy track. She cuts back to seven furlongs here and looks headed in the right direction for a sharp barn that is off to a slow start at the meeting (0 for 15).
Cavorting earned a career top speed fig winning the Jersey Girl last out at Belmont Park going six furlongs off a 3 1/2 month break. She has won three of her five career starts including beating several of these last summer here in the Adirondack (G2) in her stakes debut.
She did catch a racing strip last out that was kind to off the pace types, but she has had two months to refresh off her career top and looks primed to fire another good effort here for the Kiaran McLaughlin barn.
Irish Jasper matched her career top winning the Victory Ride (G3) last out for her third win in a row. She has now won six of her nine career starts. Two back she came from off the pace to win the Miss Preakness (G3) at Pimlico in a good-looking effort.
Four exited that race to win next out including the runner up Huasca, who won the Tangelo at Gulfstream Park and then ran second in the Azalea (G3) in her most recent outing. She should get an honest pace to run at and her 8-1 morning line looks more than fair.
WIN: #3 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 1,2,3,4
TRI: 2,3 / 1,2,3,4 / 1,2,3,4,6
Get Michael’s full card reports for Saratoga includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations. Get reports for the entire meeting between July 24 and Sept. 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. Saratoga runs six days a week, Wednesday through Monday.