If today's 84th renewal of the Whitney Handicap does not get your blood pumping, best have the closest available person check your vitals. A race like this is exactly why I love racing. In the much maligned older male division, who could have predicted that a line-up like this would be assembled for the $750,000 grade 1 affair at Saratoga. Eleven horses are entered, and every single one of them can flat out run.
I suspect the bettors to land on Tizway as the tepid favorite by post time, but if he goes off at anything lower than 4-1, I see it as a mistake. This will be Kentucky Derby kind of betting. Eight or nine horses look like they should be somewhere between 6 and 12 to 1. The big difference between the average Derby field and this Whitney bunch, is today's field are already proven commodities.
Consider this: Tizway is coming off the performance of the year in his Met Mile tour-de-force in which the son of Tiznow earned a 119 Beyer. Flat Out comes in off a 6 ½ length blitzing of his Suburban foes. Giant Oak is a 1.3 million dollar earner, with a big win in the Grade 1 Donn to his credit this year. Mission Impazible is a multiple grade 2 winner, who just missed in the Grade 1 Foster last out. Rail Trip, also a millionaire, is a grade 1 winner, who has only once ben beaten by more than a length or so. Last year's Super Derby winner, Apart, is from the same team who won this race last year with Blame, and seems to still be getting better. Another millionaire, Morning Line won the Grade 1 Carter two starts back, and just missed Breeders' Cup glory last fall. Let me take a breath...
Friend or Foe is lightly raced but has Beyered to the tune of 109, 105, and 103, in his last three, including a smart score over Rail Trip. Headache has never been better, and his last race race, an easy score in the Cornhusker Handicap, points him out as a legitimate threat to the big boys. At over $1.6 million in the bank, Duke of Mischief is actually the richest horse in the race, because he has been winning stakes for the past three years. And finally the horse I expect to be let go at the highest odds in the field, Rodman, has run a couple of bang-up races, including a strong finish to be 2nd in the Met Mile, since his return from injury.
I mean really, how do you feel confident in picking a winner of this race? In the end, I landed on Giant Oak, in hopes he gets a lot of pace to run at and can win one for Illinois, but in reality all eleven horses have a realistic shot to win the biggest race of their lives this afternoon.
Isn't that what racing is all about?