Shapiro: How to bet the 2018 Whitney
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
Saturday’s feature on a loaded 11-race card in Saratoga Springs is the $1.2 million Whitney Stakes.
The Grade 1 event conducted at 1 1/8 miles over the main track drew a field of eight led by the dominant victor of the Suburban (G2) #6 Diversify. The 7-5-morning line favorite went fast early in the 1 1/4-mile contest at “Big Sandy” and had plenty left late earning a career best 114 BRIS Speed rating.
The son of Bellamy Road is likely to regress in his fourth start of the form cycle for trainer Richard Violette, but anything near that effort at Belmont Park will make him tough to catch late. However, the fact it was not the plan all along to run in the Whitney concerns me some. I am not dead against Diversify, but the price is certainly less than ideal.
#4 Mind Your Biscuits has done little wrong in 2018 for trainer Chad Summers. His win and two runner-up efforts this year include an extremely impressive late-running victory in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) at Meydan and an awesome performance where he could not get to Bee Jersey in the Met Mile (G1) on Belmont Stakes Day. He has run four consecutive triple-digit BRIS numbers and should take plenty of attention at the pari-mutuel windows.
As much as I respect Mind Your Biscuits’ talent and current form, I am not fond of the stretch-out to nine furlongs. His best efforts have come at shorter distances and even the one-mile races at Belmont Park and Aqueduct have come over one-turn configurations. If the $3.93 million-earner wins I will not.
#2 Backyard Heaven is my horse in this year’s Whitney. The Ken and Sarah Ramsey-owned colt rattled off three victories, including a 4 1/2-length win in the Alysheba (G2) on Kentucky Oaks Day and headed into the Stephen Foster (G1) as the prohibitive 4-5-favorite. The four-year-old colt disappointed in a big way in that June 16 event at Churchill Downs, but I can forgive the poor performance in Louisville because it was an extremely hot evening under the lights. Like many others that Saturday night he simply may not have adapted well to the unique surroundings.
Javier Castellano takes over riding duties for the first time on the son of Tizway and should find himself in a perfect stalking spot off the early pace of Diversify and longshot #3 Dalmore. Trainer Chad Brown as always is having a huge Saratoga meet and should have this $160,000 Keeneland September yearling ready for a big one in this spot. At anything near his 9-2 morning line price I will be heavily vested.
2017 Belmont S. (G1) winner #1 Tapwrit got back to a triple-digit BRIS speed rating in the second start of his four-year-old campaign in the race Diversify dominated last month, but I was not impressed with his fifth-place finish for trainer Todd Pletcher. The $1.2 million son of Tapit has failed to hit the board in two previous tries at the Spa and appears a cut below the top few in here. Perhaps he can grind away a minor share, but I have no interest in him on top.
#7 Good Samaritan came from last to win the Jim Dandy (G2) last year in his first try against graded stakes company over the main track and won the New Orleans H. (G2) at Fair Grounds over the dirt as well, but overall, he has been a bit of a disappointment as a four-year-old for Hall of Famer Bill Mott. He would need a cutthroat battle on the front end to be at his best, but at 12-1 on the line I can see including him underneath in the exotics.
#8 McCraken and Dalmore are up against it.
$50 Win 2
$2 Trifecta Key
2 with 1+6+7 = $12
Total Budget- $62