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Whitney Handicap

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 7/31/2014 11:09:23 PM

About the Race and Track

The 9-furlong Grade 1 $1.5 million Whitney Handicap has attracted 9 older stars for horse racing enthusiasts to evaluate and there is a good mix of speed and stamina in the race.

There is more at stake than money here as this is a ‘win and you’re in’ race, which means the hero gets a free pass into the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

One of the greatest upsets in history happened in the Whitney when Onion beat the late great Secretariat in 1973.

Legends like Tom Fool, Kelso, Dr. Fager, Alydar and Easy Goer have won this race over the decades and last year Cross Traffic was coming off a nose loss in the Met Mile before he went wire-to-wire in the Whitney with a 108 Beyer Speed Figure.

A Longshot With Some Value: Itsmyluckyday

Itsmyluckyday is brimming with confidence. He has been game in his recent wins and show he has the grit when second in the Preakness last year.

The Pick: Palace Malice

Will Take Charge has been very effective in his career at this distance of 9 furlongs. Proven at Saratoga, he was left with too much to do last time while running wide when second to improving Moonshine Mullin. He can be placed fairly close up on a moderate pace but his potent late kick will be most effective if a hot pace materializes.

Moreno’s calling card is his speed and he will be gunning from the sound of the bell. He has been forced wide in every race this year and he could have been compromised by his marooned post position last time when beaten by Zivo. He has trained fast for this race, was not disgraced here last year in the Jim Dandy and looms the one to catch.

Romansh won at this 9-furlong distance for his only victory this year on the inner strip at Aqueduct. And he was inching toward Palace Malice 2 races back in the Met Mile. Troubled her last year in the restricted Curlin Stakes, he was awarded the win through disqualification. Colt is out to make amends today after failing as the beaten favorite.

Golden Ticket will be seeking his first win in over a year. He may have disliked the slop last time in the Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows and considering he was also off slowly, the 4th-place finish was solid. This distance is well within his range and would not be shocked if he gives a very good account of himself at a price.

Departing likes to win races as his 7 for 11 record suggests. He has not raced since mid-June but is repeatedly proven off a vacation and he has drilled steadily at Saratoga for this engagement. In the good hands of Al Stall, this veteran is versatile enough to stalk and win or come from left field and upset the apple cart.

Itsmyluckyday has not ducked anybody in his career. He faced the Kentucky Derby winner last year Orb and ran second to Oxbow in last year’s Preakness. He is another with tactical speed in this race and after running 4th in his 2014 opener; he has now won three in a row. His style will give him first run on the deep closers today.

Prayer for Relief figures to be a juicy price on the tote board today. This pro won a $74,000 stakes in his 2013 finale but has blanked in 6 starts this year. He had dead aim at the top of the lane in the Suburban last time but gave way late and was losing ground at crunch time. Things will need to break just right.

Last Gunfighter will be making his Saratoga debut. He was life and death to beat a short field at Penn National in his 2014 opener in May but only beat a pair to the wire in the Suburban in July. He has some semblance of speed but is hung out in post 9 today and that could prove a problem with a quick run to the first turn.

Palace Malice was a very good sophomore last year as he proved winning the Belmont Stakes but he has gone to a new level this season winning 3 Grade 2s and then the Grade 1 Met Mile. His stalk and pounce style should play well in this event as he has revenge on his agenda as Will Take Charge beat him in the Travers here last year. He has trained like a Swiss clock for this race and should be tough to deny.




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