Saratoga Diary: Whitney Deluge

Profile Picture:

TwinSpires Staff

August 4th, 2018


It takes a lot to wake me up once I go to sleep at night. The Mets blew another great pitching performance by Jacob deGrom so it was lights out. Around 3 a.m. I heard some noise that I couldn't figure out. It didn't sound like the air conditioner kicked on but it finally dawned on me that the din I was hearing outside was torrential rain. It looked like we were living in a car wash. So it was no surprise to see that the backside was flooded this morning.

Early this morning, races 1, 2, and 4 were taken off the main track. A couple of hours later, race 10, the Waya (G3) was postponed and will be run Sunday, August 12. Then, the Lure Stakes was postponed and will be run on Saturday, August 11.

Race 1 was a nine-furlong, off-the-turf event for optional $62,500 claimers and over a main track that was sealed as tight as can be overnight. EXULTING rallied from just off the pace to win throttled down in the stakes-quality time of 1:48.72. The gelded son of Tapit has now put two wins in a row together and is just figuring out what to do.

When two-year-old, two-turn turf races get switched to the main track, they are run at seven furlongs and Lee Einsidler's CASA CREED came back seven days after a dull debut effort to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:23.47. It is unusual to see trainer Bill Mott come back this quick and he was ignored some in the wagering at almost 7-1. The son of Jimmy Creed completed a Junior Alvarado daily double that paid $55.

Race 3 was a state-bred maiden $40,000 claimer and Gary Gullo got a nice win with RAGNAR LOTHBROK. He showed some speed in his career debut at 8-1 then sat third off the pace here and took over to win by three-quaretrs of a length at over 6-1. David Cohen, whose career is having an emergence, was not going to be passed once he took over in the stretch.

Race 4 was an off-the-turf event going 5 1/2 furlongs for state-bred first-level allowance company. Luis Saez had THE CARETAKER in a drive and, despite being bumped, was able to win going away in the good time of 1:03.99.

Race 5, the De La Rose Stakes, stayed on the turf and the final time was not as bad as I thought it would be. Irad Ortiz Jr. had UNI far back early after hitting the gate at the start. She began to pick up horses behind a slow pace and won by a head over Precieuse, a French classic winner making her first start in 407 days. It was a sweep of the top two positions for Chad Brown who is winning races with a vengeance. The time for the mile over an inner turf course listed as Soft was 1:40.09.

Race 6 was a maiden special weight going seven furlongs for older horses and former Chad Brown assistant Dermot Magner won it with HERSH, who at 7-2 with a brilliant late move over his former boss' two runners. It was the second winner of the day for a son of Jimmy Creed.

Race 7 was the typical Saratoga maiden special weight for juveniles and Bill Mott won another race when MUCHO came back off a good debut two months ago at Belmont Park and draw off to an almost 10-length win. The final time for the six furlongs, on a track that was upgraded to Fast, was 1:10.19 and it was a good field that he crushed. Jose Ortiz won aboard the son of Blame who came in here off some fast workouts and that first race was a lot faster than it looked.

Race 8 was the Test (G1) going seven furlongs for three-year-old fillies. Jose Ortiz made it back-to-back winners with SEPARATIONOFPOWERS as he kept that one off the pace early then rallied on the far outside to engage Mia Mischief. Those two battled through the lane and in the final yards, it was Chad Brown again as Separationofpowers surged late to beat a game Mia Mischief. Even though her last start was a bit dull after a stumbling start, she showed a win over the track last year and figured to improve second start off the long layoff.

The Whitney (G1) was race 9, the last of the day, and when lightning hit the area, the horses were kept in the paddock until it passed by. The main track was sealed during the delay. Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tapwrit had his aluminum pad off so the foot problems that had been plaguing him might have been fixed.

With a 5:46 p.m. post time, the horses, already tacked up, had to wait for the lightning to stop and then have the tractors go around again. Torrential rains hit and the track looked like it was in danger of washing away. Canceling the last two races early in the day looked like a stroke of genius since I have no idea if they could have been run after the rain hit. Finally, after a 44-minute delay, the horses came out on the track and the sun shone again.

Irad Ortiz Jr. gunned DIVERSIFY to the front and the Whitney was over. He was able to get to the front without using too much energy and expected challenges from Dalmore and Backyard Heaven never materialized. Diversify had a clear lead while skipping over the sealed wet track. Tapwrit tried to keep up but after six furlongs in 1:10.70, the New York-bred son of Bellamy Road had a four-length lead. Sprinter Mind Your Biscuits was game as could be and was in second-place turning for home but it was all Irad and Diversify through the lane. He won by four lengths over Mind Your Biscuits with longshot Discreet Lover getting up for third after it looked like he would get second.

It was a tremendous training victory for Rick Violette, who was going to wait for the Woodward (G1) four weeks from now. Instead of being a slave to the schedule, Violette saw that his gelding was doing great, training great and his blood work was great. After a :59 breeze here last week, he was entered on Tuesday and the rest is history. He looked eerily similar to Nick Zito's New York-bred Commentator who won the Whitney twice employing similar front-end tactics.

Sunday Selection

In Sunday's race 7, Jason Servis sends out #8 AMERICAN POWER. Servis was the hottest trainer in America going into this meet but only has one win in 14 days of racing. I like that he moves this one up in claiming price and can stalk on the outside with Irad Ortiz Jr.