McCraken a 'strong possibility' for Saratoga's Whitney Stakes

McCraken a 'strong possibility' for Saratoga's Whitney Stakes
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Whitham Thoroughbred's McCraken exited his Wednesday breeze in good shape and is on target for the Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney Stakes on August 4, trainer Ian Wilkes said Thursday morning.

McCraken, a 4-year-old colt by Ghostzapper, covered six furlongs Wednesdayover Saratoga's main track in 1:12.66 and trained Thursday morning, going out for an easy jog as part of Wilkes' normal post-work routine. 

The breeze was his first recorded work since finishing third as the 7-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap on July 6 at Prairie Meadows.

"I wanted a very good work. He went 12 and three and clicked off 12s [12-second furlongs] all the way around," said Wilkes. "He needed that type of work. I didn't get what I wanted last race and the work before was slower than I wanted, so I needed more."

Wilkes said he saw enough out of the homebred colt on Thursday to give serious consideration to running in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney, a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Classic this fall.

"It's a strong possibility; that's what I'm pointing him for," he said.

The multiple stakes winner finished seventh in last year's Travers, his only other appearance at the Spa. This year, McCraken returned in May with a half-length win in an optional claiming contest on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs. He followed up in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on June 9 at Belmont Park, where he traveled wide and was impeded late to finish sixth.

McCraken will have a walk day Friday, said Wilkes, and will work once more before the Whitney.

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