My Favorite Whitney Handicap Winners by Decade

August 08, 2016 09:32am
Blame Whitney 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Quickly approaching nine decades of one of my favorite races, Saturday’s 89th edition of the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga is a race I’ve been looking forward to since Frosted crossed the wire eight weeks ago in the Met Mile. As my favorite racehorse of the past several years, I cannot wait to see him again, as he looks to not only earn his first win at Saratoga, but also hopefully strings together big wins for the first time in his career. Anything can happen in horse racing, so I am cautiously optimistic that Frosted will win his fourth race of a million or more, and send me home happy. In his honor, I have compiled a list of my favorite Whitney winners by decade. 


2010-2015 – BlameUnderappreciated, and unfortunately remembered more than anything as the horse who ended the winning streak of Zenyatta, the son of Arch was an awfully nice racehorse in his own right. He never once finished out of the money, while winning 9-of-13 career starts. In fact, he won six of his last seven races, with his two most impressive victories coming in the famous Breeders’ Cup Classic, and in the Whitney Handicap, where he knocked off Quality Road.


2000-2009 – InvasorInvasor is another horse who I fear is not being remembered for as great as he truly was. Bred in Argentina, and a Triple Crown winner in Uruguay, Invasor never lost a race in the United States. He was seldom flashy, but the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup won 11-of-12 lifetime. In the 2006 Whitney, he displayed his impressive will to win with a thrilling victory over Sun King.


1990-1999 – Victory GallopMuch like Blame, Victory Gallop was a whole lot more than just the horse who ended the Triple Crown bid of Real Quiet. At four, the consistent Canadian-bred was a champion. His racing career ended prematurely, but in his final career race, he won an epic stretch battle over Behrens at the Spa. Despite not being around for key fall races, it was enough to clinch and Eclipse Award for the horse who finished first or second in all but one of his career races.


1980-1989 – Easy GoerFor purposes of full disclosure, in the great Sunday Silence-Easy Goer rivalry of 1989, I was a Sunday Silence guy. While I rooted against Easy Goer in those four meetings, I have nothing but huge respect for the powerful son of Alydar. After losing a narrow decision to his rival in the Preakness, the popular Shug McGaughey trained chestnut rattled off five straight impressive Grade 1 victories in the state of New York. After beating Sunday Silence in the Belmont, a strong win in the Whitney was Easy Goer’s first against older horses.


1970-1979 – AlydarIf not for Affirmed, who knows how Alydar would be remembered in history. Of course, there was an Affirmed, so the great Alydar will always be remembered as the horse who tested the Triple Crown winner to the fullest in each of the three legs. Among his many wins, the Whitney win of 1978 was one of the ones I remember the most. Taking on older horses for the first time, the son of Raise a Native blew their doors off in the most impressive Whitney performance I have ever seen.


1960-1969 – Dr. FagerIt’s not easy to be my favorite Whitney winner of the decade, when the great Kelso ruled the Whitney in the early part of the same decade. Let’s face it, they are two of the greatest horses in history. In the end, I side with Dr. Fager, the 1968 Whitney winner, because of the love for the horse by my father. Growing up, you can only imagine all the stories I heard about the Good Doctor from a man who traveled far and wide so as not to miss one of his races in person. There was only one Dr. Fager.   


1950-1959 – Tom FoolAlthough he raced long before my birth, Tom Fool was one of history’s horses that I could not learn enough about. A former juvenile champion, the Greentree star suffered through health issues at three, but came back unbeatable as a healthy four-year-old. How does a 10-for-10 season sound? Dominating at all distances, and carrying weight, the Whitney winner did it all in his perfect year of 1953.


1940-1949 – GalloretteOne of the greatest distaff runners in American racing history, Gallorette was not the only great female to win the Whitney, but she was the one most willing to tangle with the boys. The Whitney winner of 1948, danced every dance, and often came out on top. In an era with many top handicap horses, she not only held her own, but she was a major winner in four consecutive seasons, and actually earned her win in the big race at Saratoga as a six-year-old mare.


1928-1939 – DiscoveryDespite a Triple Crown winner, War Admiral, winning a Whitney during this decade, I could not resist selecting Discovery for the honor; and why not? The great son of Display remains the only horse to win this race in three straight years (1934-1936). The Hall of Famer may have finished second in the Kentucky Derby, but he not only went on to win his first Whitney later that year, but he also earned his first of three straight scores in the Brooklyn that same season.


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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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