Review of Whitney Stakes, Grade I, at Saratoga on August 4

The Whitney Stakes is a “ Win You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic this fall at Churchill Downs. The winner of the Whitney Stakes receives an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Race 9. Whitney Stakes, Grade I. For three-year-old and up at 1 1/8 miles on dirt. Purse $1,200,000.

PP Horse Jockey Trainer M/L
1 Tapwrit John R. Velazquez Todd Pletcher 6/1
2 Backyard Heaven Javier Castellano Chad Brown 9/2
3 Dalmore Ricardo Santana, Jr. Robert Hess, Jr. 30/1
4 Mind Your Biscuits Joel Rosario Chad Summers 2/1
5 Discreet Lover Manuel Franco Uriah St. Lewis 30/1
6 Diversify Irad Ortiz, Jr. Richard Violette, Jr. 7/5
7 Good Samaritan Jose Ortiz Bill Mott 12/1
8 McCraken Brian Hernandez, Jr. Ian Wilkes 15/1


Tapwrit won the 2017 Belmont Stakes and hopes to regain his winning ways in his third start of 2018. His Belmont Stakes win was the highlight of his career, and he followed it up with a fourth in the Grade I Travers Stakes two months later. He returned to racing in June of this year, when he finished third in an allowance race at Belmont Park. Last time out, he was fifth in the Suburban Handicap, Grade II, where it was widely thought that he would show improvement. He should be either fourth or fifth in this field.

Backyard Heaven won the Alysheba Stakes, Grade II, at Churchill Downs on May 4th. He finished sixth in his next race the Stephen Foster Handicap, Grade I, at Churchill Downs on June 16th.  We are throwing that race out since the weather was extremely hot and humid that day. Irish War Cry was vanned off after the Stephen Foster Handicap due to heat exhaustion issues. He should bounce back and be on the board.

Dalmore has competed in multiple stakes events throughout his career. Last time out, he ran second in the Cornhusker Handicap, Grade III, at Prairie Meadows. He needs to improve to find a place on the board.

Mind Your Biscuits has only raced in one-turn events during his career, and his biggest wins have been at 6 furlongs. The 1 1/8-mile distance against this field could be extremely difficult. However, he finished by a nose in the Met Mile. The distance will be an issue, but he could get a place on the board.

Discreet Lover continues to run well in big races and even hit the board at a big price last time out in the Suburban. Although he did not threaten the winner in any of those big races, his consistency makes him an on-the-board threat no matter what race he enters.

Diversify is one of the best New York-breds in training and comes into this race off of a win in the Suburban where he took the lead from the start, set very fast fractions, and still completely dominated that field to win by over 6 lengths. He is the lone speed in the Whitney. If he is allowed to go out on his own and set soft fractions, then this field may not be able to catch him down the stretch. He is 1-for-1 at Saratoga. He had an 11 1/2-length win in the Evan Shipman Stakes.

Good Samaritan – Last time out, his connections cut his distance back in the Met Mile, but that is just not his game and he struggled to a seventh-place finish. He is much more effective going longer, so the Whitney will set up much better for him. Two races back, he was third in the Alysheba, and three races back, he won the New Orleans Handicap, Grade II. Perhaps the biggest win of his career came over this track in the  Jim Dandy Stakes, Grade II. He will be running at the leaders down the lane.

McCracken was considered a major Kentucky Derby contender, but those dreams fell short when he finished eighth in the Derby. However, he did go on to win the Matt Winn Stakes, Grade III,  and gave a strong runner-up effort in the Haskell Invitational, Grade I. He debut 2018 with a win against allowance company before disappointing in stakes efforts in his last two starts. His class has earned him a spot in this race, but he will need a solid performance to be competitive.

Our Top Three Picks:

  • Diversify
  • Backyard Heaven
  • Mind Your Biscuits



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *