In-depth analysis of the Whitney Stakes including Pace Figures and Form Cycle Pattern of each starter. Please refer to the Legend or Pattern Guide for back-up definitions and patterns.
The Grade I Whitney Stakes is the crown jewel of the Saratoga meet as some of the top horses in the country compete for a purse of $1,500,000 and an entry into the Breeders' Cup in this “Win and You're In” event. And, while the race is carded for 3 year-olds and up, only older horses (4-6 years old) are competing in this year's race.
Note – this analysis is written as if the race is to be run on a fast track, there is a chance of rain in the forecast.
Get the Pace Figures for the Whitney Stakes here.
For Bristnet PPs for Whitney Stakes click here
Will Take Charge (4/1)
The leading money earner in the field, WTC has banked over $3.7mm in his racing career. Legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas has done a great job keeping him in top shape and made a big jockey move going back to Luis Saez (from injured Gary Stevens), who has four wins and seconds in eight starts.
Looking at his Pace Figures, his most recent final figure was 80, a bounce-back from the 75.3 on 5/2. Speaking of which, it was no surprise to see a 75.3 at that point, given WTC had six final figures north of 78 in a row. Using the basic view on Predicteform, you can see his four furlong figure has never been bigger than his final figure, a true sign of a classic distance runner.
The Play: Contender – The class of the field and with a jockey change, WTC looks like he is rounding back into form.
Prayer for Relief (20/1)
The only six year old in the field, he's a hard-knocking veteran horse who has earned over $1.7mm over the course of five years. Looking back at lifetime past performances, Prayer for Relief has won two Grade II's and a Grade III but has been unable to compete in Grade I company.
The one item to note in his Pace Figures is the three race CPT Pattern (Cyclical Pace Top). This designation of CPT is for older runners who hit its highest 4f Pace Figure over the course of ten races. Looking back at his nine previous races, you can see a CPT comes every three races and has increased over the nine race period from 77 – 77.6 – 78.5.
The Play: Too Slow – his best doesn't hit the board, though the CPT designation could be interesting for a longshot to run fourth if you are cagey enough to play superfectas (first four in a row).
With only two wins from 19 lifetime starts, Moreno has the least wins and lowest winning percentage in the field. His trainer, Eric Guillot is still eating crow after last year's ridiculous accusations following the Travers. Moreno is an example of a true front runner, a horse who has to be on the lead to have a chance to win.
Supporting the notion that Moreno loves the lead, you can see a number of his 4 furlong figures are in the mid to high 70's, considered very high for a 9 furlong race. Also, note his “bullet work (the fastest of the day) on 7/26 which looks like a strong tune-up for a front running speed ball.
The Play: Fringe Contender – Final Pace Figures are a couple points short of the best, but the track has been favoring speed and if he gets an uncontested speed, Moreno could hit the board.
A serious racehorse in his 3 year-old year, It'sMyLuckyDay ran second in the 2013 Preakness before getting injured in June 2013. Over the course of the last three races he has quickly rounded back into form most recently posting an 81.5 Final Pace Figure.
Speaking of his last race and the 81.5, if you watch the replay (which we encourage), jockey Paco Lopez spent more time looking back than forward, letting him coast to the wire in almost a goofy coasting style, clearly indicating he had more in the tank.
The Play: Value Play – The 81.5 final figure in his last gets IMLD right in the mix, and while it was a lifetime top (which is of some concern), the style in which he won the race and his back class make for a value bet.
Palace Malice (1/1)
The top ranked thoroughbred runner in the country, Palace Malice is a perfect four for four in 2014. Trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez have won at a 41% clip thus far at Saratoga 2014 meet and will team up with this superstar horse. He is 2 for 3 at Saratoga which gives him more wins over this track than any other runner.
His Pace Figures have been consistent averaging 79+ the last four starts, most recently running an 81.9. The 81.9 final figure was near a lifetime top (82.9 in the Jim Dandy on 7/27/13 at the SPA), following which, he regressed six points in his next start to 76.5.
The Play: Contender – must respect his chances but with a chance to regress and an even money morning line favorite provide no value to support.
Here's what we had to say about Departing prior to his most recent start in the Grade I Stephen Foster:
A well-managed runner with only 10 lifetime starts, this colt is a Claiborne Farm type runner inside and out. (Stallion War Front stands at Claiborne for $150,000 while the Dam Leave is also Claiborne bred). His last effort was a 78.3/80.1 New Pace Top (NPT – fastest 4f figure of career without a lifetime final top), which is even more impressive coming off a seven month layoff (9/29/13 – 4/30/14). His improving 4f figures with consistent competitive final figures indicate a runner who is showing a tactical ability to stalk the pace. There is significant value here at 9:2 morning line.
While he ran well enough with a 78.9 final figure, Departing did not have the late kick to get him to the wire. It was his second start off a layoff which could be excusable but there is a still a question of if he can run a final figure of 80, which it will take to win here.
The Play: Fringe Contender – still looking for that breakout Grade I win, Departing should be in the mix and there is a chance he could put in a lifetime best here. Value here if he stays above his morning line odds of 6:1.
Ran a decent third to Palice Malice while posting a 79.3 on 6/7/14. Another runner who has won a Grade III but yet to compete on a Grade I level. Turning to his Pace Figures, he is on a steady decline with his final figure going from 81.9 – 79.3 – 75.3 in his most recent start.
The Play: Regressor – would need a lifetime best in here to hit the board, which seems unlikely based on his current Form Cycle.
Golden Ticket (20/1)
He shocked the racing world by winning the Grade I Travers (for 3 year-olds) in the summer of 2012 but has yet to get back to that Grade I level. His lifetime top was a 79.7 in March of 2014 and he's regressed in his final figures since then down to his most recent effort of 71.6, the slowest final figure of all the runners.
The Play: Too Slow – even his best lifetime effort would probably not hit the board.
Last Gunfighter (15/1)
Competitive at the Grade II and Grade III level, turf specialist trainer Chad Brown teams up with leading jockey, Javier Castellano on this longshot. His Final Pace Figures of 74.2 – 74.7 – 74.7 (most recent) are a significant step below the field.
The Play: Too Slow – no reason to expect anything more than a 75-76 as a final figure which is not enough against these Grade I runners.