First stop in our review of last Saturday’s action is Saratoga for the 89th running of the Whitney Stakes, with a purse of $1.25m and the winner getting free entry to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Frosted went off the 1/2 favorite following his devastating 14 ¼ length win in the Met Mile.
He was never going to win by that far in this race but the performance, in its own was very impressive. Frosted broke alertly and took up the running but was hounded on the pace for the first three quarters by the more than useful Noble Bird. Noble Bird paid or that effort and dropped back to finish a distant fifth but Frosted kept on running and was able to pretty much coast home, 2 lengths in front of Comfort.
Effinex was slightly disappointing. He got the perfect stalking trip and was positioned to close well but could find nothing at the business end of the race to trouble the mighty Frosted.
The other grade 1 race on the Saratoga card was the Test Stakes, a 7 furlong race for 3 year old fillies worth a tasty $500,000. This looked to be a match between Off The Tracks and Kareena although Kareena’s popularity was all due to potential as she had never been tested in the white heat of the graded racing cauldron.
As it happened neither of the two market leaders filled the first two places as Paola Queen raced to a 55/1 shock win. Off The Tracks and Kareena certainly set it up for a closer as they went for each other from the start setting very quick if not suicidal fractions. Paola Queen looked to be fading and was fourth into the stretch, seemingly going nowhere. However, she kept on rolling and, after a long hard drive, she prevailed by ¾ of a length.
We must take nothing away from the winner but you have to doubt that we would see the same result if the race were to be run again.
Mountaineer put on an exceptional card on Saturday, headlined by the West Virginia Derby, a grade 2 race for 3 year olds over a mile and an eighth, worth a sumptuous $750,000.
Ten horses faced the starter for the big race and the punters’ friend, Cupid, was sent off the 6/4 favorite. Many handicappers, including myself, thought that Cupid was a short price and may be severely inconvenienced by his draw in stall one. However, we were all wrong. Cupid was away alertly and took up a position well off the inside rail and dictated thereafter. He was never put under pressure and was able to coast home, 4 lengths in front of the 73/1 outsider, Whateverybodywants.
Suddenbreakingnews, who looked well drawn to be a live threat was never able to challenge, although he made slight late gains to finish a well-beaten fifth. The winner, a classy horse with plenty of pace, is tailor-made for these valuable regional derbies and will no doubt continue to deliver big bucks to his lucky owners.