The Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga was first run in 1928 and has been won by some of the sport’s biggest stars. Cody’s Wish tries to add his name to the list on Saturday as the 1-2 morning-line favorite to win the prestigious race for older horses. Five stakes races, including three Grade 1s, dot the card. The Test Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and the Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf headline the horse racing news on the undercard.
He’s Going the Distance, He’s Going for Speed
Cody’s Wish rides a six-race win streak into the Whitney, but has run 1⅛ miles only once – a third-place finish at Saratoga in his second career start. The 5-year-old has never won at more than a mile, finishing second at 8½ furlongs in 2022. The other five horses in the Whitney have all won at 1⅛ miles or farther. Cody’s Wish, though, appears ready for the challenge.
“We have reason to believe he could do it,” Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott told the Paulick Report. “He’s come a long way. He was terribly green when we ran him at three in his first few races. He just didn’t know whether to go forward or that sort of thing.”
Cody’s Wish comes off a smashing victory in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont, defeating three of his biggest Whitney rivals. Zandon was second by 3¼ lengths, with White Abarrio third and Charge It fourth. Charge It could prove to be the biggest obstacle for Cody’s Wish on Saturday. Charge It, with Hall of Fame connections in trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez, could get a great trip sitting off the speed of longshot Giant Game. Charge It is likely to get a big jump on Cody’s Wish, who will likely be last down the backstretch.
Any horse racing picks – especially in horizontal wagers — must include Cody’s Wish, but it may be wise to include Charge It if the heavy favorite has trouble negotiating the extra furlong. The improving Giant Game could provide value in the exacta and trifecta pools.
Cody’s Wish is named after Cody Dorman, who was born with the rare genetic disorder Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. Dorman met Cody’s Wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and a relationship was born. The 17-year-old will be present at Saratoga on Saturday.
Parcells-Owned Maple Leaf Mel Faces Biggest Test
Bill Parcells led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl victories, but the Hall of Fame coach has never won a Grade 1 race as an owner. That could change when he sends out the undefeated Maple Leaf Mel in the Test Stakes. Maple Leaf Mel, the 2-1 second choice in the horse racing odds, is 5-for-5 with her last two triumphs coming against Grade 3 company. Joel Rosario rides the 3-year-old filly by Cross Traffic.
“It’s just like football in some respects,” Parcells told Bloodhorse. “You’ve got these athletes here. They are challenged on a high level and you’re just anxious to see them compete, particularly if you have one you think might do something and that’s the case with Maple Leaf Mel. You know, she’s undefeated, and you don’t see that too often. So far she’s passed every test, but there’s always another test; literally, we have one coming up.”
Pretty Mischievous is the 9-5 favorite, and will likely be the most popular horse at the racebook.
The daughter of Into Mischief is 6-for-8 lifetime after winning a pair of Grade 1s — the Kentucky Oaks and the Acorn Stakes. Munnys Gold, trained by Todd Pletcher, is listed at 7-2.
Usual Suspects Riding High; Rice Cooking Among Trainers
Irad Ortiz Jr. is well on his way to a second straight riding title at Saratoga, and third in the last four years. The four-time Eclipse Award winner had 28 winners entering Friday, nine ahead of Luis Saez and 12 in front of his brother Jose. Irad is winning at a 22% clip when betting online. The Ortizes, though, won’t ride from August 9-11 as they serve suspensions for careless riding.
The trainer’s standings were closer with Chad Brown and Linda Rice tied at the top with 15 wins. Pletcher was next with 12. Rice last won a training title in 2009. Pletcher or Brown has won them all since. Mott is fourth with nine winners.