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2011 Whitney Handicap and Test Stakes

Tizway and Rajiv Maragh after the Whitney Handicap
Date: 08/06/2011

The highlight race at Saratoga Race Course this weekend is the $750,000 Whitney Handicap (G1). A field of 11 older horses contested this 1 1/8 mile main track feature, with intermittent showers and temperatures in the low 80ís before 34,412 fans. Tizway was sent off as the lukewarm 4-1 favorite, exiting his win the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park after finishing third in the Charles Town Classic (G3). In to challenge him included 9-2 second choice Flat Out, winner of the Suburban Handicap (G2) last out, and 7-1 third choice Mission Impazible, off a close second place finish in the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs.

Tizway draws off from Flat Out in the stretch

Jockey Jose Lezcano sent 8-1 Friend or Foe to the lead first time past the stands and he set slow early fractions of 24.31, 49.11, and 1:13.85 while being pressed by 7-1 Morning Line just to his outside. Favorite Tizway stalked the lead pair in third down the backstretch. Turning for home, jockey Rajiv Maragh asked Tizway to challenge and he easily passed the tiring pacesetters, opening a 2 length lead in mid-stretch through 1 mile in 1:39.32. Flat Out, 7th early, came through between horses for his late rally but Tizway was well clear, drawing off late to win by 3 lengths in 1:52.43 over the fast main track. It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to 10-1 Giant Oak third.

Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place  Show
 5   Tizway             Maragh       10.20    5.50  4.40
 1   Flat Out           Solis                 6.10  4.20
 4   Giant Oak          Bridgmohan                  2.50

Winning Time:  1:52.43

$2 Exacta 5-1                47.00
$2 Trifecta 5-1-4           356.50
$2 Superfecta 5-1-4-2     2,478.00
Results Chart

Left: Tizway in the winner's circle. His trainer H. James Bond said, "Rajiv rode him just tremendous. I thought, 'Let them fall out of there, don't take back, let him do his thing,' and Rajiv knows him like a book. He will go 1 1/8 miles, he will go 1 1/4 miles. He loves it here. He's been here for 3 to 4 years now. We had Will's Way here quite a few years ago for us, and now his cousin Tizzy did it for us. I told Rajiv to be within a half-length at the top of the lane. He's just a great horse. He's a fast horse, he's a miler, and now he's shown us he can make two turns and carry it on. There's one more big hurdle, and that's 1 1/4 miles. He's got a high cruising speed and he's got an endless supply of oxygen. He's the best miler in the country, and he is the best older horse in the country."

Right: Marylou Whitney (white hat with pink bow) presents the trophy for the Whitney Handicap. Owner William Clifton Jr. said, "You don't find horses like this very often, and sometimes it's a long time between drinks of water. He is a 6-year-old, but he's running pretty darned good as a 6-year-old."

Left: Tizway heads out for the post parade. His jockey Rajiv Maragh said, "I was always close to the pace, where I wanted to be. I just trusted the horse that he could get the distance. I just rode him the same way I have always ridden him. He really picked it up at the 3/8 pole. He was definitely overpowering in the middle of the turn and he kept on going. At that point, I thought he was going to be tough to catch. He stayed on well and finished up strong. This is one of the biggest wins of my career. It is a great race and a great feeling. I think he's one of the top handicap horses in the country. He has won two of the more significant races: the Met Mile and now the Whitney."

Right: Tizway gets hosed off after the race.

Left: Second place finisher Flat Out returns after the race. His trainer Charles "Scooter" Dickey said, "He tried all he could, he just got outrun, I think today. I think they're all pretty hard-knocking, steady horses [in this division]. I don't know if in the future one of them will turn out to be a superstar or not, but it's a pretty tough bunch of horses. Alex (Solis) said we had no problem, he just got outrun today. He's a game horse, he tried really hard, and we're proud of him."

Right: Third place finisher Giant Oak heads out for the post parade. His trainer Chris Block said, "Considering the way the race set up with the pace, I'm ecstatic. I didn't give him a chance to hit the board at the 3/8 pole. I thought the horse ran gutty. I'd like to try to run him back in the Woodward. With a pace, he's a legitimate horse. Without a pace, you see what can happen. Our horse is covered with dirt from top to bottom, and there isn't a speck of dirt on the winner."

Turbulent Descent draws away in the stretch

Immediately before the Whitney, a field of 8 three-year-old fillies contested the $250,000 Test Stakes (G1), a 7 furlong main track sprint. Turbulent Descent was sent off as the even-money favorite off a second place finish in the Acorn (G1) after winning the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) and Beaumont Stakes (G2). In to challenge her included 4-1 second choice American Lady, an allowance winner last out, and 6-1 third choice Her Smile, winner of the Prioress (G1).

8-1 Roman Treasure battled for the lead down the backstretch with American Lady through fractions of 23.02 and 45.85, with 9-1 Pomeroys Pistol stalking them third. At the 3/16 pole, Turbulent Descent, who settled in 4th on the outside early, easily passed the pacesetters to take the lead, and quickly opened up a 2 1/2 length advantage in midstretch through 3/4 in 1:10.44. Pomeroys Pistol gave chase to no avail, as Turbulent Descent cruised under the line 3 3/4 lengths in front in 1:23.17. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to Roman Treasure third.

Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place  Show
 6   Turbulent Descent  Flores        3.90    2.70  2.10
 7   Pomeroys Pistol    Velazquez             5.90  3.90
 3   Roman Treasure     Dominguez                   4.30

Winning Time:  1:24.17

$2 Exacta 6-7                24.80
$2 Trifecta 6-7-3           136.50
$2 Superfecta 6-7-3-8       337.00 
Results Chart

Left: Turbulent Descent in the winner's circle. Her trainer Mike Puype said, She'll take on any horse out there at this distance. She's in deceleration at the finish. This win is huge. It puts her right to the top of the division. She's the favorite to win the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. We took her out early at 5:30am and jogged her a mile. I usually don't send her out the day of races, but we wanted her to get used to her surroundings. That was just as nice as it can be. I trained her a little harder for the race. I wanted to make sure she was ready for a deeper track. She put herself in a new financial category today, and she's in line to win an Eclipse Award."

Right: Turbulent Descent returns after the race.

Left: Turbulent Descent heads out for the post parade. Her jockey David Flores said, "She broke really nice, very clean start. She was closer than I was expecting, I thought I was going to be a little bit further back, but the pace was not as fast as I thought it was going to be and that put me in the best spot. So, I just waited, there was nobody to worry about and around the 1/2 mile I just pointed out and she started making a run. I just let her be herself."

Right: Turbulent Descent in the post parade.

Left: Second place finisher Pomeroys Pistol returns after the race. Her jockey John Velazquez said, "She broke very well and I didn't want to get hooked up head-and-head. I sat right there, and when the other horse got to me I moved with them, but I didn't have enough to keep up."

Right: Third place finisher Roman Treasure heads out for the post parade. The 8-1 fourth choice set the pace under jockey Ramon Dominguez, but faded into the stretch to finish third beaten 6 1/4 lengths. The Mike Hushion trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 0 seconds, and 1 third in 7 starts, earning $138,000 for owner Black Swan Stable.

Kicking off the stakes action on Saturday was the $75,000 De La Rose Stakes, a 1 mile inner turf event for 3-year-old fillies which have never won a graded stakes on the turf. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan sent 24-1 longshot Trix in the City to the lead first time past the stands and she set an uncontested pace of 23.91, 47,38, and 1:10.72 over the firm course, with 19-1 Becky's Exchange stalking 2 lengths back. Into the stretch, Becky's Exchange tired as 7-2 second choice Tapisfly and 3-1 favorite Evading Tempete moved up to challenge, but they were left with too much ground to make up as Trix in the City finished 2 1/4 lengths in front in 1:34.27. It was just a neck between Tapitsfly 2nd and Evading Tempete 3rd.
Results Chart

Left: Trix in the City in the winner's circle. Her trainer Rick Violette said, "She's a bit of a high-cruising-speed filly. She has no real kick; she just keeps going and going. When they left her alone the first 1/4 mile in almost 24 seconds and the turf is very firm I said to myself, 'This is very cool.' It worked out perfectly. It was a very good field but sometimes it just works in your favor." Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan added, "She relaxed real well on the lead, and I had enough to kick on for home. Once we got to the 1/4 pole, I just had her in gear and on her way. She's just such a classy filly, and really kicked on for me."

Right: Second place finisher Tapitsfly heads out for the post parade. The 7-2 second choice stalked the pace in 3rd under jockey Robby Albarado, gained 2nd on the turn and chased the pacesetter to the line. The Dale Romans trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 4 seconds, and 2 thirds in 13 starts, earning $735,390 for owner-breeder Frank Jones Jr.

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