The Whitney 'Runner' 'Keen' to Dominate the Breeders' Cup Classic Prep

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

August 1st, 2017

"Gun Runner will have a tremendous opportunity to raise his stock"

With three-year-olds virtually dominating the discussion last weekend, older horses will be more under the spotlight this coming Saturday at Saratoga.

The $1.2 million Whitney (G1) is a “Win & You’re In” prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), and one horse in particular figures to command nearly all of the attention. That would be Gun Runner, who demolished the opposition by seven lengths in the Stephen Foster H. (G1) in June and was a distant but clear second to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup (G1) in March.

In the wake of Arrogate’s no-show in the San Diego H. (G2) and the mild uncertainty about whether he’ll be back at full strength in the Pacific Classic (G1), Gun Runner will have a tremendous opportunity to raise his stock even further. While unlikely to displace Arrogate in any popular poll until that rival runs again, a big win in the 1 1/8-mile fixture at Saratoga would give Gun Runner a major boost in the eyes of most observers.

Like last weekend’s Jim Dandy (G2), the Whitney field is likely to be a small one. Keen Ice recently won for the first time since the 2015 Travers (G1), overcoming a slow pace in the 1 1/4-mile Suburban (G2) and winning with authority over heavy favorite Shaman Ghost. Previously fourth in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and seventh in the Dubai World Cup, it was also Keen Ice’s first win since moving to the Todd Pletcher barn.

Obviously a fan of Saratoga given his upset win over American Pharoah two summers ago, it remains to be seen whether Keen Ice can be as effective over nine furlongs as he is over 10.

Other Whitney candidates include Breaking Lucky, who finished second to Gun Runner in last November’s Clark H. (G1) and a distant third in the Stephen Foster, and Cautious Giant, who enters off a 2 1/2-length score in the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn (G2).

There are four other stakes on the Whitney undercard, including the $500,000 Test (G1) for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. American Gal, who placed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and the Starlet (G1), the latter against Abel Tasman, last fall, might go favored following a 4 3/4-length romp in the July 9 Victory Ride (G3) at Belmont Park in her first start of the season.

The other three stakes are all on turf: the $200,000 Waya (G3) for fillies and mares at 1 1/2 miles, and the $100,000 Lure and $100,000 De La Rose, both restricted.

Looking for more information on Saratoga? Then check out our online betting guide to the summer meet!