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Another One Bites the Dust

Posted by on 8/5/2014 10:04:02 PM

Saratoga has long been called the ‘Graveyard of Favorites’ and handicappers watched another go down that very path on Saturday in the $1.5 million Whitney Handicap as Moreno upset odds-on chalk Palace Malice.

Saratoga has seen its share of disappointments by well-bet runners over the years. Man o’ War was beaten by Upset atSaratoga. Secretariat was beaten by Onion at Saratoga and even the great harness champion Niatross lost at the New York venue.

Moreno finally broke through in 2014 as he was winning his first race of the year in his 5th start this season. He had run decently in 2 prior races and the only poor effort came in the Met Mile when he was never in the picture.

On Saturday he took control at the outset, just like his trainer Eric Guillot told everybody he would, and he tow-roped his rivals all the way around.

Junior Alvarado was at the help and he said legit splits. They went the first quarter in :23.67, the half in :47.50, the 6 furlongs in 1:11.31, the mile in 1:35.41 and the final time of 1:48.05 is honest for the 9-furlong fray.

Moreno paid a juicy $22 and the $800,000 paycheck raised his career earnings to over $1.7 million. But maybe most importantly, this was a ‘win and you’re in’ race so he has automatically qualified for a fees-pain trip to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Guillot, who has been a controversial figure after accusing a jockey of using a buzzer, was ecstatic, Guillot: “When they crossed the wire, it took me awhile to believe it. I saw the :47 3/5. I say the 1:11 and change and I was feeling pretty confident like the Travers. It’s funny, because pace makes the race, inner fractions make the race. The farther they go, the better. The softer fractions, the better he is. He feels horses behind him. That’s the kind of horse he is.”

Guillot has one thing right; pace makes the race and always will.

The favorite Palace Malice tried to go with the winner early. He was being pushed along but third most of the way until the bottom fell out way before they hit the top of the lane. Moreno was getting 7 pounds from both Will Take Charge and the favorite as he posted a career best 108 Beyer Speed Figure.

Palace Malice came out of the race fine and he had his trainer Todd Pletcher scratching his head as to what happened.

As far as the running of the race, it was pretty clean. Will Take Charge was caught wide, but that happens when a runner has no speed. Romansh and Departing both had minor gate incidents but they were 18 and 15-1 respectively and really were rank outsiders.

As for what’s next for Moreno, who took a long time to figure it out, like always, there are options. His connections could opt for the Woodward on August 30, or wait a bit and try the Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 27 at Belmont.

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