Whittingham Stakes Isn’t a BC Race, It Just Looks Like One

Whittingham Stakes (Grade 2)- $225.000 Purse
SA- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Quarter on the Turf
April 30, 2022

They may only be running for a $225.000 purse, but several of the horses in the field for Whittingham Stakes have taken each other on for much bigger prizes in the BC. In the 2022 edition of the race we will see Billy Joel, Iron Nation, and Winter Solstice, horses that have combined for over $10,000.000 in earnings. Those accomplishments make what $1,000.000 earners Stallsome and Never Met Me, also in this race, seem pretty small. Last Way To The Beac isn’t too shabby either, at over $800.000. That is 6/8ths of the field, so the newer horses have their work cut out for them, but hey, if they won, it is a really big deal for them and their careers. Billy Joel has already won this race once, doing so last year by close to three lengths. It’s a tough crowd for him to entertain this year, but he will be up for it! Let’s meet the field!

#1- Last Way To The Beac (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by J R Velazquez)- You won’t find many non BC or Grade 1 races where Last Way To The Beac’s career earnings are one of the smallest in the field, but this is one of them. He has been picking up all “1’s” in his races over the last five starts. Unfortunately, though, that’s three wins and two eleventh place finishes. The not as good races were the BC Turf and the Pegausus World Cup Turf, but he has done much better in non-Grade 1’s. Which, technically, this is. His inconsistency concerns me, though.

#2- Winter Solstice (John Henry, ridden by U Rispoli)- While they won’t feel this way in the SA-area, it still feels like winter in some parts of the country. It wasn’t a great winter season for this now seven year old gelding until his last start, where he managed to place second in the Grade 2 Diarmida. That is a result that he really needed, because his starts leading up to it were struggles, to put it nicely. Is his form ready to turn around? We’d love to see him follow that up with another big one here.

#3- Billy Joel (La Canada Racehorses, ridden by A Cedillo)- The music of his namesake is ageless, but will the equine version be the same way? 2020 into 2021 were great for him, winning the BC Turf in 2020, and then finishing a respectable fifth in the same race last year. Between them, he had a couple of big wins, with this race being one of them, but he also won the Pegasus World Cup Turf right before that! His last race was not good, but it might have been the soft turf, and his record shows that he does not always perform well on off tracks. I’m looking for a big bounce back for him. Doesn’t mean I am calling for a win, but he should be in the top three.

#4- Neds Influence (The Sidley Stud, ridden by R Chirinos)- Making your graded stake debut against one of these great horses is tough. Making it against all of them is quite a task, but this three year old has earned the right to run in this type of race. Fortunately, virtual horses do not get star struck, and he will get to carry three pounds less than everyone else. He’s 2-for-2 on the grass and comes here off of a $75.000 ungraded win. Let’s see what he can do!

#5- Never Met Me (Mb Stables, ridden by V Espinoza)- This six year old gelding has won five of his last six races, with the one non-win being the BC Turf, where he ended up eighth after running on the lead early on. Prior to that race, he scored a big win in the Grade 1 Pattison at WO. After the BC, he was dropped into an open allowance that he won, and would capture the Grade 3 San Luis Rey last month, going wire to wire there. This is the first time since the BC that he meets up against real strong opposition, though it’s a group he should be running against.

#6- Dons Woman (Nolespan Racing, ridden by F Prat)- In 2020, the trainer won this race with Dons Carry On, who is by the same sire as Dons Woman. This five year old has won his last three, but is lightly raced overall, making just his seventh career start after taking a year and a half off. Last month, he won the TAM Turf Classic to show that he still has plenty of untapped talent, and he could really make quite an impression with a win here, given the opposition.

#7- Stallsome (Ace Racing Stable, ridden by E Maldonado)- Is there anything left in this gelding? He has had a great career, with earnings over $1,100.000, but after winning the Grade 1 Sword Dancer in August, he has really been struggling. So much so, that former trainer Maxmillion Farm put him a $7.500 claimer at TUP on the 11th of this month. By the way, in that claimer, which again was at TUP, he finished seventh, losing by seven lengths. But Ace Racing Stable, who claimed him, is confident that the horse is ready to bounce back. I’m not feeling it.

#8- Iron Nation (Nakamura Stables, ridden by Ru Gonzalez)- A horse that will go down as one of the greats of the game. At the moment, his career record stands at seven wins, but he knows how to win the big ones, like the 2020 BC Mile. A year later, he would run in the BC Turf, and while he did not win, he still finished second. Those results play a big part in his over $4,000.000 in career earnings. He is showing no signs of slowing down either, as after the BC, he placed second in both the Pegasus World Cup Turf and the Kilroe Mile. Seeing faces he is used to in the BC will get him thinking this is a race like that, and I look for Iron Nation to get his first win since October.

Prediction: 8-3-5-2

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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