Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
The resume has a glow to it, there is no question about that.
Olympiad, a 4-year-old colt, comes into Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Whitney Stakes with a shiny five-race winning streak, four of them graded stakes. None of the other five Whitney runners, including the imposing Life Is Good, can say that.
The son of Speightstown has ripped off wins at Churchill Downs – the Stephen Foster (G2) and Alysheba (G2) – and at Fair Grounds – New Orleans Classic (G2) and Mineshaft (G3). The Foster and the New Orleans Classic came at the Whitney distance, 1 1/8 miles.
Whenever Olympiad has stepped on the track this year, he runs better than he did the race before.
Now comes the acid test. Olympiad comes to the Whitney aiming for his Grade 1 victory for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. He’ll have to beat the likes of Life Is Good and the always dangerous Hot Rod Charlie to get it.
“We are going to find out Saturday,” Mott said, standing outside his office at the Oklahoma training track. “He has been good; he has been real good since we added the two turns. And he has been really good at 1 1/8 miles so far. We are cautiously optimistic. I don’t think you can ever be overconfident because there are good horses in there.”
Olympiad’s exploits have certainly caught the attention of fellow Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who trains Life Is Good, the 6-5 morning-line favorite in the Whitney, as well as Happy Saver (8-1) and Americanrevolution (5-1).
“Olympiad is on a tremendous streak,” Pletcher said at the Whitney draw. “We’ve got to give him all the respect.”
When asked what makes Olympiad such a Whitney threat, Pletcher was fairly blunt.
“It looks like he gets to the wire first a lot,” he said.
Owned by the Roth family’s LNJ Foxwoods, Robert Clay’s Grandview Equine and Everett Dobson’s Cheyenne Stable, Olympiad gave Mott a good vibe early in his career
In his 2-year-old season, he broke his maiden in his second start, at Saratoga, on Sept. 5, 2020.
“He did everything right, he breezed well,” Mott said. “We thought he could be a nice horse.”
He missed time the following year and did not return to the races until last September. In his final start of 2021, he was fourth in the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) after a rough trip.
This year, he started the streak. Mott knows a thing or two about winning streaks as he trained the great Cigar to 16 straight wins in the mid 1990s. Now, of course, no one is comparing Olympiad to Cigar, but five straight wins is five straight wins.
“He has improved every time out,” said jockey Junior Alvarado, who has ridden Olympiad in seven of his 10 career starts, including all five during the winning streak. “We always knew he had the talent. Just seeing him develop; he seems like he is getting faster in every race.”
Life Is Good will be the horse to catch in the Whitney. Alvarado knows that and expects his horse will be right on his heels, as will Hot Rod Charlie.
“We will break out of there and and break running,” Alvarado said. “We will make Life Is Good work for it. We are not going to sit back and let him dictate the pace as easy as he wants. Hopefully, we can run him down at the wire.”
If that happens, it would be the first Grade 1 win for Olympiad. Mott is confident his horse is up to the task of winning the Whitney. Alvarado is, too.
“We have stepped him up in competition every time,” Mott said. “We have increased the level of competition. Now we are probably nearing the height of what is around. We will have to see on the racetrack what he can do. We respect the competition here, but we feel like we belong.”