The Whitney (BC) (Grade 1)- $1,000.000 Purse
SAR- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
August 6, 2022
It’s time for one of the biggest races of the entire SAR Meet as the Grade 1 Whitney will be taking place. While everyone will want the winner’s share of the $1,000.000 purse, a victory will also provide an automatic entry into the BC Classic, giving it even more value. The Whitney first appeared on the schedule in 2005, and has been run every year except 2010 when, as legend has it, Australia Wide forgot what the entry cutoff time was and did not enter a horse. Surprisingly, the race did not fill otherwise. That has not been a concern at all in the recent years, and this year we will have nearly a full field, with thirteen entries. The list of past winners is impressive, starting right away with Omni, and also including Barbarino, Halfing, Atomic Twister, Splash Mountain and Tactical. In 2021, the race finished in a dead heat. One co-winner was Space Commander, for Nakamura Stables. He’s still active, but has not won a stake since. The other co-winner was So Profound, for Asgar, and he was retired after running in the BC Classic last year. Here’s a look at the field this year, and hopefully we will have just one, single winner.
#1- Sports Page (John Henry, ridden by D Van Dyke)- We begin with a horse that has always been well respected, but is truly having the best season of his career right now. Maybe D Van Dyke can take some credit here, getting him in the winners circle in an optional claimer in January, then being his exclusive rider since April. In that time, he was second in the OP Handicap, won the Gold Cup, and ran third in the Foster. He was close enough at the wire to have possibly won all three of those races and earned a triple digit SRF in each. Van Dyke is back, and right now it’d be foolish to not make Sports Page one of your picks.
#2- Sexy Back (Night Rider Stables, ridden by E J Zayas)- This one has the looks of a horse that knows how to be in the mix late, but against the caliber of opposition he is facing, it would take his absolute best to get a win. During the spring, he was showing that ability, winning the GP Mile and was a respectable fourth against good company in the OP Mile. Then, he had an inexplicable result in the OP Handicap. I’m not ready to entirely throw that out, which I would need to do to pick him. If it was still mid April, and before that race, I might be enticed by Sexy Back a little but I prefer other options right now.
#3- Saturday Khartoum (Rousee, ridden by T Gaffalione)- After a quiet 2021, the eight year old gelding has enjoyed a career resurgence this year with three wins and over $600.000 in earnings. A good chunk of that came from his start, where he won the Grade 2 Foster, beating a handful of rivals that he sees here again. He earned a 101 SRF for the race, and it would be the first time in his long career that he earned triple digit SRF’s in back to back races. Five years ago, he broke his maiden right here. What a great career it’s been!
#4- Mintmach (Nakamura Stables, ridden by E J Wilson)- Back in 2020, Mintmach ran in the Whitney, but finished well up the track at the end. He’s no longer with Nolespan Racing, as Nakamura was able to pick him up in a $35.000 claimer in October of last year. Since then, he has made six starts, and won three of them. In the races he did not win, he was no where close, showing that horse deals with frustrating inconsistency. His last two have been duds, so you can certainly say he is due for a strong race here. I wouldn’t be surprised, at all, if he won this race, or if he finished in the double digits.
#5- Sunderland Til I Die (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by M J Sanchez)- Over his 21-race career, he has had several opportunities at the graded stake level, and that includes running in the Travers here last year. He has not done anything with any of those races, with only three wins, and only one being a stake, which was not graded. Last month, he tried to pace the field in the Grade 2 Suburban, but fell to third in what was probably his best graded result. Never really races poorly, and could sneak a piece of the purse, but I wouldn’t put him on top.
#6- Combat Wombat (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by S X Bridgmohan)- One of those names in a race that will command immediate respect. After all, he has been doing it for a while as the seven year old gelding has made 34 starts, and is closing in on $4,000.000 in earnings. Right now, he’s as good as he has ever been, and that says a lot. He’s won three of his last four, and while the first win won’t excite, his last two victories are the Grade 3 PIM Special, which he won by four, and the Grade 2 Suburban. This is the first time he has run in a stake at the Spa.
#7- Thundering Speed (Jokerjoes, ridden by A A Reyes)- Picked up in the September 2021 auction for $60.000, Thundering Speed has never finished outside the top four while running for Jokerjoes. Most of those were in overnights, but that changed for his last two races, which were the Grade 2 Eclipse, that he won, and the Grade 2 Nerud, where he was third. He does not have a lot of experience going long, but the Eclipse showed that he can get it done at over a mile. This is the toughest crowd he has ever run against, but if he does well, he’ll be seeing them much more often going forward.
#8- Tempestuous (Mb Stables, ridden by A Cedillo)- Now that we have moved to the outer half of the field, we can expect to see horses trained by Mb Stables. Tempestuous had always been a good horse, but he made a name for himself in March where he opened up a big lead in the SA Handicap and then held on for a two length victory. We have not seen him run with that tactic since then, but it did not matter two starts later when he won the Grade 2 Alysheba. Ran third in the Gold Cup in May, but pulled a no show last month in the Suburban, which was the worst race line of his career. Needs a bounce back, and should do so.
#9- Charleys Latte (Fractious, ridden by L Saez)- The 2020 BC Classic winner struggled in his bid to repeat in that race, and it set off a string of subpar performances. This April, previous trainer John Henry elected to sell him off, sending him to Fractious for $500.000. Clearly, Fractious believed that he could get Charleys Latte back on track but while the results have been a little better, he still has not hit the board for the new trainer. To his credit, Fractious has not backed down from the caliber of race that Charleys Latte has been entered in, and the horse has not had much luck with the post draw of late, either.
#10- Buck (Big Jd Racing, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- While other horses were in the December 2021 auction for much more, Buck went under the radar, going for just $3.120 as he moved from Gustafon Stable to Big Jd Racing. The new trainer moved him to the grass and started getting results, with two wins and one place, then he showed the same ability going a mile on the main track. So, Big Jd Racing moved him into the graded ranks, and in his last start, he won the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. Congratulations to the trainer for his work bringing him forward and if he beats this crowd, it would be truly be a remarkable job.
#11- Stolen (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by R M Hernandez)- Last year, Stolen ran in the Whitney, and was a length behind the dead heat up front, but still missed a check in placing fifth. Since then, he has mostly been competitive, but did not score a graded victory until two starts ago, in the Grade 2 Brooklyn down at BEL. In that, he was well off the pace at the start but showed great closing kick to win. The trainer was hoping to see that again in the Suburban, but it never materialized.
#12- Crack Dab (Gdp Inc., ridden by M Franco)- Appearing in the Whitney is nothing new for Crack Dab, as he has been here each of the last two years. The results could not be any more different, as in 2020 he ran very well, finishing second, but last year he was no where to be found at the end, and finished in tenth. He struggled here right after that, too, but eventually got things back on track and did finish fourth in the BC Dirt Mile last year. This year, he has hit the board in five of six races and comes here off of a second place showing in the Grade 2 Foster.
#13- Quality Art (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- From the outside, the second entry from Mb Stables will be looking to pick up his first career graded win. In May, he would win the $160.000 Knicks Go at CD, but did not follow that up well as he was given a true test in the Metropolitan Handicap. Last month, he was better, running second in the PRM Cornhusker Handicap. Might be showing some signs of inconsistency at this level, and the post draw will not help him fight that.