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Jockey Javier Castellano celebrates aboard Honor Code after winning the Whitney Handicap
The $1.25 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). 39,841 fans were on hand under sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80s. 2014 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tonalist was sent off as the 7-2 favorite in the field of 9 off second place finishes in both the Metropolitan (G1) and the Suburban (G2) Handicaps. In to challenge him included 15-4 second choice Honor Code, winner of the Metropolitan and Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2), and 4-1 third choice Lea, second in the Stephen Foster (G1) after third in the Dubai World Cup (G1).
Down the stretch in the Whitney
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Honor Code Castellano 9.50 5.90 3.50 4 Liam's Map Smith 7.40 4.50 2 Tonalist Velazquez 3.00 Winning Time: 1:47.82 $2 Exacta 1-4 76.50 $2 Trifecta 1-4-2 225.50 $2 Superfecta 1-4-2-9 1,383.00
Left: Honor Code in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Shug McGaughey said, "I thought with the early fractions they might back up a little bit. But I misjudged it and at the 1/16, I looked up and said, 'Oh, man.' It was a spectacular race. A spectacular horse. People have always held him in high regard, but wondered if he could run around two turns. He's got some quirks about him, could he overcome them? I guess he answered all that today. I'm glad it's over with and I'm glad we won, so I don't have to worry about that part of it."
Right: Honor Code heads back to the barn after the race
Left: Honor Code heads in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I don't have anything to do on my horse; that's his style. At the 3/8, I felt like he was going to go to the leader and at the quarter pole, he didn't kick off. When he got to the 1/8 pole, he switched leads, on the right lead in the right place at the right time. He ran unbelievable, like he always does."
Right: Honor Code behind the starting gate. Castellano added, "He didn't give (speed) like I thought, I had to use a little bit. It was different in the Met Mile, by the 3/8, by the 1/4 pole, I had gotten it. I knew I was going to be rolling. Today, I kind of felt like I was going to have to work a little bit at the quarter pole, but he switched leads at the right time at the eighth pole. He finished really strong."
Left: Marylou Whitney and her husband John Hendrickson relax in the winner's circle after the race.
Right: Second place finisher Liam's Map returns after the race. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "I could see Honor Code was coming, so I knew it would be really close until the finish. He ran unbelievably well, setting those fractions to start and being there to the end. He just couldn't hold off a really good horse."
Left: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Tonalist heads out to the track before the race. Jockey John Velazquez said, "We got in the position we wanted to be in, and tried to make a run. It took a long time to get him going and other horse passed him. He finally started running at the 1/4 pole and then he kept running."
Right: The horses break from the gate for the Whitney. Winning trainer Shug McGaughey added, "He's an amazing horse. He has been, really, from the start, from his maiden race here in the slop when it looked like he was hopelessly beaten, and he won. He's really grown into himself. We're very excited and very happy about today. To be able to win a race like the Whitney is a big feather in our cap."
The $100,000 De La Rose Stakes featured a field of 10 older fillies and mares going 1 mile on the inner turf course. Perfect Sting Stakes winner Daring Kathy was sent off as the 8-5 favorite over 3-1 Recepta, 4th in the Eatontown (G3), and 7-1 Token of Love, 6th in the Gallorette (G3). 12-1 Miss Frost went to a 2 length lead through fractions of 22.82, 46.59, and 1:10.73 while stalked by Daring Kathy. At the 3/16 pole the pacesetters tired as Recepta, 6th early, moved up to take the lead at the 1/8 pole. 16-1 Tuttipaesi rallied by 7th but Recepta drew off to win by 2 1/4 length in 1:34.02 over the firm course. It was a neck back to 13-1 A Little Bit Sassy third, while favorite Daring Kathy checked in 9th.
Left: Recepta in the winner's circle. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "I got very lucky. She responded right away when I got to the spot there because the horse on the inside started getting out. I was afraid that the horse on the outside was going to push her in. She split the horses and she started running right away. It helps when the horses are fun."
Right: Second place finisher Tuttipaesi returns after the race with jockey Junior Alvarado. The Bill Mott trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds in 12 starts, earning $256,629 for owner Valor Ladies LLC.
Left: Third place finisher A Little Bit Sassy in the paddock before the race. The Michael Matz trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 4 seconds, and 1 third, earning $255,432 for owner Ramona Bass.
Right: Ninth place finisher and beaten favorite Daring Kathy heads out to the track before the race. The Chad Brown trainee improved her record to 7 wins, 0 seconds, and 2 thirds in 11 starts, earning $407,931 for owners John Eaton and Steve Laymon.
Also on the card: The Test, Waya Stakes, and Lure Stakes
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