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San Gabriel/Santa Ynez
Jockey Junior Alvarado celebrates aboard Moreno after winning the Whitney Handicap
The $1.5 million Whitney Handicap (G1), run at 1 1/8 miles over the main track, is the premier contest at Saratoga for older horses and is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race earning the winner automatic entry into the Classic (G1). 36,318 fans were on hand under sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80s. Palace Malice was sent off as the 3-5 favorite in the field of 9 off four straight wins in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2), New Orleans Handicap (G2), Westchester (G3), and Metropolitan Handicap (G1). In to challenge him included 4-1 second choice Will Take Charge, second in the Stephen Foster (G1), and 8-1 third choice Itsmyluckyday, winner of the Salvator Mile (G3).
Down the stretch in the Whitney
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Moreno Alvarado 22.00 9.00 6.60 4 Itsmyluckyday Lopez 7.90 4.60 1 Will Take Charge Saez 4.60 Winning Time: 1:48.05 $2 Exacta 3-4 157.50 $2 Trifecta 3-4-1 599.00 $2 Superfecta 3-4-1-2 6,889.00
Left: Moreno in the winner's circle. Trainer Eric Guillot said, "When they crossed the wire, it took me a while to believe it. I saw the :47 3/5. I saw the 1:11 and change and I was feeling pretty confident like the Travers. It's funny because pace makes the race, inner fractions make the race. The farther they go, the better. The softer fractions, the better he is. He feels and waits on horses behind him. That's the kind of horse he is."
Right: Marylou Whitney presents the trophy for the Whitney Handicap to owner Mike Moreno with trainer Eric Guillot on the left next to NYRA President and CEO Christopher Kay.
Left: Moreno heads back to the barn after the race.
Right: Moreno in the paddock. Jockey Junior Alvarado said, "Right before the break he kind of moved a little bit. You don't want to mess too much with him in the gate. We tried to fix that as much as we could. I missed the break a little bit, the first step. When I asked him, boom, he was there right away. Eric told me to be two lengths in front. 'Keep it that way. Two lengths in front, two lengths in front. Turning for home, he'll be there for you.' Even before I hit it, switching leads to the right, he took two big jumps. I said, 'I don't think there is a way anyone can pass me.'"
Left: Moreno heads out for the post parade.
Right: Second place finisher Itsmyluckyday in the paddock before the race. Trainer Eddie Plesa said, "I'm disappointed he didn't win. I'm proud of him, the race he ran. He showed he belonged with the very best. If they ran this race six times, there might be three different winners and he's going to be one of them, I believe. I'm proud of him. Needless to say, I'm disappointed he didn't win but the horse ran great and shows where he belongs."
Left: Third place finisher Will Take Charge in the paddock. The 4-1 second choice raced 7th early under jockey Luis Saez, then rallied to get third beaten 4 1/4 lengths. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee improved his record to 7 wins, 6 seconds, and 1 third in 21 starts, earning $3,924,648 for owners Wills Horton and Three Chimneys Farm.
Right: Sixth place finisher and beaten favorite Palace Malice returns after the race. Jockey John Velazquez said, "I don't know what went wrong. He didn't run at all. He was in perfect position. On the backstretch he was looking around. I was hoping by the half-mile he'd move on, but he never showed any interest. He went through the whole race not paying any attention. He trained great, he warmed up great, he just didn't run today."
The first stakes race on the card was the $100,000 De La Rose Stakes for older fillies and mares going 1 mile on the inner turf course. Matriarch (G1) fourth place finisher Dayatthespa was sent off as the 2-1 favorite over 5-2 Filimbi, off an allowance win, and 4-1 Pianist, 7th in the Matriarch. Dayatthespa and 13-1 Alaura Michele battled for the lead through fractions of 23.65, 46.82, and 1:10.54 over the firm course while stalked by 8-1 Ready Signal. In the stretch Filimbi, fifth early, closed 4 wide to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Dayatthespa in 1:34.42. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Pianist third.
Left: Filimbi in the winner's circle. Jockey Joel Rosario said, "We had a good trip. I thought we were going to be a little closer, but I saw Javier (Castellano, aboard Dayatthespa) send his horse to the lead and a couple more had speed. I just let her place herself wherever she wanted to be, and I just hoped that she'd kick turning home. She's a nice filly, the more you ask, the more she gives. I was very confident."
Right: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Dayatthespa returns after the race. The Chad Brown trainee improved his record to 8 wins, 4 seconds, and 0 thirds in 15 starts, earning $858,892 for owners Jerry Frankel, Ron Frankel, Steve Laymon, and Bradley Thoroughbreds.
Third place finisher Pianist heads out for the post parade. The Chad Brown trainee improved his record to 6 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds in 15 starts, earning $508,700 for owners Hidden Brook Farm and Dan Zucker.
Also on the card: The Test, Alfred G. Vanderbilt, and Lure Stakes
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