1pt each way
We are set for an epic showdown on Saturday as Saratoga hosts the 95th running of the $1 million Grade 1 Whitney Stakes, one of the most important races for older horses in the calendar. Whoever wins is likely to have the Breeders’ Cup Classic as an end-of-season target.
This 1m1f contest on dirt has been won by some legends previously and this year a field of six lines up, including three Grade 1 winners in Life Is Good, Hot Rod Charlie and Happy Saver.
But the selection is the improving Olympiad, who has won all five of his races this calendar year.
William Mott’s four-year-old broke his maiden at this course as a two-year-old and has been doing very well since. He was lightly raced at three and managed to win two of his three starts in allowance and optional allowance claiming company, but it’s his form this season which leads me to believe he can take this.
His last four runs have all been in Graded company and he’s won them all with any amount in hand, while recording his highest speed figure to date with an impressive win in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs last time out.
Life Is Good is likely to make the run, so that should give this colt a target to aim at. If Junior Alvarado can get a good spot behind him, then that should set the race up nicely for Olympiad, who can gain a first Grade 1 victory under a jockey who has been on board for six of his seven victories.
The penultimate race at Saratoga is the competitive $1 million Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes over 1m1½f on turf, featuring European challengers Nations Pride and Stone Age.
But, the American-trained horses can fill the places and one who can go well at a price is the colt in stall three, Emmanuel.
Todd Pletcher has been in impressive form in 2022 and in Emmanuel he has a horse who is coming along nicely after notching his first Graded stakes win last time with an all-the-way victory in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge Stakes over 1m1f at Belmont Park .
This extra distance should pose no issues and he is drawn perfectly to be able to take the lead, so it would be no surprise if he ran a big race in an open Saratoga Derby.
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FIRST PUBLISHED 6:00PM, AUG 5 2022