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Whitney Handicap Preview

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 8/5/2013 1:06:59 AM

About the Race and Saratoga

The Grade 1 $750,000 9-furlong Whitney Invitational Handicap will be renewed at Saratoga on Saturday and online sports betting site players can wager on the best older horses in the land as they try to join the superstars who have won this race in the past.

This is a ‘Win and You’re In’ race to the Breeders’ Cup Classic so there is more at stakes than just cash.

For the first 14 years of its existence this race was run at a mile and quarter. Discovery is the only horse to win the Whitney in successive years and he did it three times in a row.

Fort Larned will try to win the race in consecutive years but 5-time Horse of the Year won the Whitney three times over a span of 5 years.

The other winners of this race reads like a who’s who of the game. Triple Crown winner War Admiral succeeded here, as did Tom Fool, Dr. Fager, Alydar, In Excess and Easy Goer.

A Longshot With Some Value: Alpha

Alpha moves to Joel Rosario for this and that is a huge rider move. Just last Saturday he posted a bullet drill over the surface and he has enough speed to maintain some sort of contact. If the speed comes back, this guy could pick up some serious pieces.

The Pick: Fort Larned

Fort Larned tuned up for this race with a best of the morning 1:00.71 work, which was the fastest of 31 at the distance over the Saratoga strips. He was given time after winning the BC Classic last year and then dumped his rider in his first start of the year. He may not have cared for the strip at Oaklawn when a dull 5th, but he rebounded in nice fashion taking the Grade 1 Foster at Churchill in his June finale with a sizzling 115 Beyer Speed Figure.

Mucho Macho Man has been the favorite in 4 of his last 6 races and he lost every time as the chalk. His best asset could be his tactical speed.

Cross Traffic is fresh and dangerous. He was 11 lengths clear of the show horse in his first Graded race and lost a heartbreaker in the Met Mile when beaten a nose. The horse he beat by over 3 lengths that day took the Grade 2 Suburban next out with a 107 Beyer.

Ron the Greek seems to move up in the off going and is proven off the vacation. He also proved he belongs in this race by running second in this fixture last year.

Fast Falcon is in a funk. He has not won since his third career start and that is his only victory.

Alpha is an interesting item. Unbeaten in his three races at Saratoga including a win in the Grade 1 Travers last year in a dead-heat, he was given a prep last time after two failures this year in Dubai.

Csaba’s connections were hoping to run in the Birdstone, an overnight stakes but that race didn’t fill and trainer Phil Gleaves decided to take on the big boys. Gleaves: “Obviously, my first choice was the Birdstone but they just told me that the race only had three in it, so the Whitney it is. We’re up here, we have a nice horse, he’s doing very well, he’s run well over the course and we don’t want to leave him in the barn. I’m trying to look at all the positives, although we know it’s a very strong, competitive field.”

It sounds likes Gleaves is trying to convince himself.

Successful Dan has been extremely successful winning 8 of his 13 starts. He did get away with pedestrian splits in his April race and the pace today will be much quicker.

Look for Mucho Macho Man and Cross Traffic to be sent hard with Fort Larned right in the mix. The key to this race will be who can relax and still cash. Fort Larned has proved he can sit off the pace and cashed like he did in this race last year. It could very well be a déjà vu thing.

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