$1,000,000 Whitney (G1)

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$1,000,000 Whitney (G1) at Saratoga
Race 9: (Saturday, August 3, 2019: 5:46 p.m./ET; 2:46 p.m./PT)
Mile and an eighth on the main track (3-year-olds and upward)

The Queen of Saratoga, Mary Lou Whitney, passed away two weeks ago, just minutes away from her favorite place on earth, Saratoga Racecourse. Named for one of the most well-respected families in all of racing, the Whitney Stakes is the feature race on a terrific Saturday program at Saratoga. Grade I winners MCKINZIE, THUNDER SNOW, VINO ROSSO and YOSHIDA lead the group, as well as recent Grade 2 winner PRESERVATIONIST. We kick off our analysis with the rail runner:

#1 IMPERATIVE was well beaten against minor stakes company at Delaware Park on July 6 and takes a significant bump up in class for this Grade 1 start. In his last six races, the only above average effort came two starts ago, when he defeated a Thistledown allowance field over a sloppy surface. This nine-year-old is not the same horse he once was.

#2 FOREWARNED is another that takes a significant class hike and does not appear to be fast enough to be competitive in this race. His two most recent runs resulted in a win and second place finish against allowance company at Parx. But his is a whole new ballgame as he faces legit Grade I stars.

#3 MONONGAHELA comes off a career high Beyer Speed Figure (102) effort when defeating five others in the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) at Monmouth and stretches out an additional furlong for his G1 debut today. His form is solid but the question is whether he has the class to win a race of this caliber.

#4 THUNDER SNOW (IRE) freshens up after a great effort, running third to MITOLE and #6 MCKINZIE, in the Met Mile (G1) on Belmont Stakes (G1) Day. The two-time Dubai World Cup (G1) winner was only beaten by a length in the Met Mile (G1), and he was arguably running at a shorter distance than what he prefers. Classy Godolphin homebred should be respected.

#5 VINO ROSSO is another who freshens up after a peak effort. Son of CURLIN earned a career high Beyer (105) on May 27 when defeating Santa Anita Handicap (G1) winner GIFT BOX in the Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita. However, in two races over the Saratoga main track, this Todd Pletcher trainee has not fired his best races, which is a cause for concern. That said, one has to wonder whether this always well-regarded colt is finally starting to hit his best stride.

#6 MCKINZIE suffered a heartbreaking loss to GIFT BOX in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) three starts back, won the Alysheba (G2) at Churchill Downs and most recently suffered a traffic filled trip while running second to MITOLE in the Met Mile (G1). The one to beat.

#7 YOSHIDA (JPN) has failed to fire his best shot in three straight races and the last time he visited the winners circle was one year ago over this track in the Woodward (G1). With that in mind, we know he likes the Saratoga main track, but whether he is the same horse as he was as last year remains to be seen.

#8 PRESERVATIONIST was cruising under the radar before a breakout performance in the Suburban (G2) last time out, defeating classy G1 winner CATHOLIC BOY by over four lengths. Note he has never finished out of the money in eight lifetime starts. Lightly raced six-year-old is a major player.

SELECTIONS
1. #8 PRESERVATIONST - Could be the real deal.
2. #6 MCKINZIE – In Baffert we trust.
3. #4 THUNDER SNOW – Has more career earnings than the entire field combined.
LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY- #3 MONONGAHELA - High percentage barn.

WAGERING STRATEGY
I’ll box my top three picks in exactas and make a straight win bet on my top choice.

BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)
$5 Exacta Box: #4 THUNDER SNOW and #6 MCKINZIE and #8 PRESERVATIONST ($30).
$20 Win: #8 PRESERVATIONIST

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