Todd Pletcher trains half the entrants in the Grade I $1 million Whitney Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga. Life Is Good, the star of the Hall of Famer’s stable, is the 6-5 morning-line favorite in the horse racing odds and drew the outside post in the six-horse field. The chief competition is expected to come from Olympiad (2-1, post 4), who has won five straight races.
- Race: Whitney Handicap
- Location: Saratoga
- Day/Post Time: Saturday, 5:43 p.m. ET (Race 10)
- Whitney Stakes Live Stream: NBC, 5-6 p.m.
Life’s Path Leads Connections to Historic Saratoga Race Course
Life Is Good bounced back from a fourth-place finish in the Dubai World Cup with a smashing victory in the Grade II Nerud Stakes at Belmont on July 2. The seven-furlong race served as a prep for the Whitney, which is 1⅛ miles.
“The Whitney is the premier older horse race in the country other than the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” Elliott Walden, CEO, president, and racing manager for WinStar Farm, told Bloodhorse. “We’ve been pointing for this race, and it’s been circled on his schedule for a long time since we started thinking about running him in 2022.”
Life Is Good is 7-for-9 lifetime. His only try at 9 furlongs was a smashing success as he won the Grade I Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream in January. The 4-year-old son of Into Mischief was 4-5 that day, the highest odds he’s been when betting online.
Irad Ortiz Jr. rides Life Is Good, who is expected to set the pace with Olympiad and Junior Alvarado in hot pursuit.
“He’s always trained so impressively and won the Pegasus at a mile and an eighth, so I’m confident he’ll handle the distance,” Pletcher told Bloodhorse. “But Olympiad is on a hot streak and is a very good horse. It should be a great race.” Pletcher has won the Whitney three times, the last with Cross Traffic in 2013.
Olympiad Comes in Hot for Hall of Fame Trainer Mott
Olympiad hasn’t tasted defeat in 2022. His last four races have come in graded stakes, including the Grade II Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on July 2.
The 4-year-old son of Speightstown defeated Americanrevolution by 2¼ lengths. Americanrevolution, conditioned by Pletcher, is 5-1 from post 1 in the Whitney with defending Saratoga champion Luis Saez riding.
Saturday’s race shape seems apparent.
“It could turn out to be us chasing Life Is Good on Saturday,” Bill Mott, Hall of Fame trainer of Olympiad, told Bloodhorse.
Happy Saver (5-1, post 5, John Velazquez) completes the Pletcher trio. Happy Saver has kept good company of late, finishing second to Flightline in the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont on June 11 and to Olympiad in the Alysheba at Churchill on May 6.
Hot Rod Charlie (9-2, post 2, Flavien Prat), trained by Doug O’Neill, was second in Dubai. Hot Rod Charlie, who was 5-1 when finishing third in the 2021 Kentucky Derby, finished second at 2-5 in the Salvatore Mile at Monmouth on June 18. The son of Oxbow could also provide early pressure on Life Is Good.
Zoomer (30-1, post 3, Joel Rosario) appears overmatched. There is no show wagering in the Whitney.
Undercard: Saratoga Derby Invitational Could Offer Value
The Grade I Saratoga Derby Invitational carries a purse of $1 million and features 11 3-year-olds going 1 3/16 miles on the turf.
Annapolis is the 5-2 favorite for Pletcher with Ortiz riding from post 6. It could be another Pletcher horse, though, that steals the show while offering a juicy price.
Six horses who raced in the Belmont Derby on July 9, including wire-to-wire winner Classic Causeway, show up here. One — Grand Sonata – was one length behind Classic Causeway, and can turn the tables (15-1, post 2) with Tyler Gaffalione up. A ground-saving trip will be in Grand Sonata’s future with the hope that there will be enough early pressure applied to Classic Causeway to set up Sonata’s kick. The morning line on Grand Sonata could be about right when checking the racebook in the minutes prior to this Race 11. Post time is 6:20 p.m. ET.
Public Sector (2-1, post 1) and Somelikeithotbrown (5-2, post 8) bookend the field in the Lure Stakes at one mile on the turf (Race 5, 2:50 p.m. ET), and will likely vie for favoritism.
Public Sector, trained by Chad Brown, will need a hot pace with Somelikeithotbrown expected to be on the lead. Safe Conduct (6-1, post 2) should be no worse than third at any point of the race under Gaffalione, and could spring the upset if Somelikeithotbrown goes a bit too fast. Gaffalione is having a subpar meet, but a live longshot could bring him back to life.
Matareya puts her four-race win streak on the line in the Grade I Test at 7 furlongs (Race 9, 5:07). Prat rides the 2-5 morning-line favorite from post 1. There is plenty of speed in this race with three others capable of joining Matareya in the early fray. The Brad Cox trainee, though, should be able to map out a good trip from the rail.
War Like Goddess, ridden by Rosario and trained by Mott, is the 1-2 favorite to defeat six rivals in the Grade II Glens Falls Stakes at 1½ miles on the turf (Race 7, 3:38).