It’s Whitney Stakes day at Saratoga on Saturday afternoon. This is the first of two very big weekends at Saratoga. The running of the $750,000 (Gr. 1) Whitney Stakes is set for today, while the $1,000,000 (Gr. 1) Travers Stakes will run at Saratoga next weekend as well. The Travers is included on the Kentucky Derby circuit with 100 points going to the winner.
That’s the only race left on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a 100-point grand prize. The Ellis Park Derby and Pegasus Stakes will follow the Travers Stakes, with 50 and 20 points going to the winning horses. There isn’t much time left to earn a trip to Churchill Downs in September.
Several horses have already clinched a spot in the Kentucky Derby, but there is still an opportunity for other race teams. When it comes to the Whitney Stakes, it’s all about the prize money available. You aren’t going to find any points towards the Kentucky Derby in the Whitney Stakes. However, the winner is going to find a nice payday. Elsewhere in the country, Del Mar has a couple of notable races to pay attention to.
The Shared Belief Stakes is offering a $100,000 purse and 50 points to the winner. The $250,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (Gr. 1) should be a good one as well, though don’t expect to find Bob Baffert’s McKinzie. McKinzie received a scratch and will not be participating. Improbable will be running for Baffert in the Whitney Stakes today, though. Code of Honor and Tom’s d’Etat should give Improbable a good race. Head below for our free Saratoga picks and Whitney Stakes pick for August 1, 2020.
.@LaffitPincayTV takes us through the history of the Whitney (G1)
— NYRA (🎪) (@TheNYRA) July 31, 2020
Race 9 – Whitney Stakes
Post Time: 5:42 p.m. EST
Distance: 1 ⅛ Miles
The Whitney Stakes (Gr. 1) will take place on the main track at Saratoga with over 1 ⅛ miles of racing. There are three serious contenders who are going to likely show up in good form on Saturday. Tom’s D’Etat, Code of Honor, and Improbable are all going to be in the mix. I give an edge to Code of Honor and Tom’s D’Etat on my shortlist.
Don’t discount Baffert’s Improbable from the No. 2 post position, though I’m going to have to go with Code of Honor and Tom’s D’Etat here. Code of Honor is the former (Gr. 1) Travers Stakes winner in 2019 and runner-up in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Instead of defending his Travers Stakes’ crown, his team is opting for a slightly easier race in the Whitney Stakes.
I can’t argue with that, as I think Code of Honor isn’t in the same form as a year ago. That’s not to say that he can’t win this race and threaten for the lead in the Travers Stakes next weekend. Since the win in the Travers, Code of Honor has finished 1st, 7th, 1st, 3rd. Code of Honor won the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (Gr. 1) to follow up after winning the Travers Stakes.
He was a winner over Vino Rosso thanks to a disqualification. Vino Rosso beat Code of Honor by a nose, but received a DQ for interference. It would have been a wire-to-wire win for Vino Rosso without the DQ. Following that lucky win, Code of Honor was outmatched in the $6,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic to finish 7th. Vino Rosso won that race in a nice response after getting DQ’d, so he got his revenge.
Code of Honor went on a layoff after that and returned on June 6 in the $100,000 Westchester Stakes (Gr. 3) to win over Endorsed by a half length. Code of Honor had to fight for it, but he got there. That was the easiest race of his career since the Dwyer Stakes (Gr. 3) on July 6, 2019. A year later, Code of Honor ran in the $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap (Gr 1) a few weeks ago. The same form wasn’t there for Code of Honor as opposed to previous races in Grade 1 events. He finished 3rd behind Vekoma and Network Effect.
For Tom’s d’Etat, he’s in the pinnacle of his career right now. He enters off four straight wins and is 11 for 18 in his career. In 4 of his previous 5 races, dating back to last August, Tom’s d’Etat has been a winning runner. He started his winning streak back on October 26, 2019 at Keeneland in the $200,000 Hagyard Fayette Stakes (Gr. 2) over Mr Freeze by 4 ¼ lengths. He followed up for wins in the $600,000 (Gr. 1) Clark Stakes on November 29, 2019 over Owendale by 3 ¼ lengths. He was clear at the top of the stretch and coasted.
Tom’s d’Etat returned on April 11 and was still in good form for a ¾ length win over Improbable in the $150,000 Oaklawn Mile Stakes. He was in improved form on June 27 in the $500,000 (Gr. 1) Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs. Tom’s d’Etat cleared By My Standards for a 4 ¼ length win. He should have some competition in the stretch in this one, but Tom’s d’Etat’s form for the last year is too good to ignore.
Race 10 – H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes
Post Time: 6:18 p.m. EST
For dessert after the Whitney Stakes, the running of the $300,000 (Gr. 1) Allen Jerkens Stakes is scheduled for Race 10 at Saratoga. The Allen Jerkens Stakes will be on the dirt with 7 furlongs to run. Echo Town and No Parole are horses of interest in Race 10. Echo Town doesn’t have much experience in his career, but has already proven that he is capable of running in Grade 1 events.
In his six-race career, Echo Town has finished 1st, 3rd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd. He has two stakes appearances in the Bachelor Stakes on April 25 and his biggest and most recent assignment in the (Gr. 1) Woody Stephens Stakes on June 20 at Belmont Park.
Echo Town finished 2nd in the $100,000 Bachelor Stakes to lose by a head against Long Weekend in April. In a tune-up for the Woody Stephens, Echo Town won a $83,000 allowance race on May 25 at Churchill Downs over Digital by a half length. I believe I was on Echo Town in that race so that went according to plan.
In his best effort to date, Echo Town followed that win up to place 2nd in the (Gr. 1) $250,000 Woody Stephens Stakes. The Allen Jerkens Stakes is a rematch against No Parole, who was a winner over Echo Town by 3 ¾ lengths. Leading into this race, Echo Town looked good in the morning, with a time of 59.63 seconds over 5 furlongs on July 20.
No Parole has been a major force in his young career. He is 5 for 6 and coming off a win in the Woody Stephens Stakes over Echo Town. No Parole also had a stakes win in the $100,000 LA Bred Premier Night Prince Stakes on February 8. That event was way too easy for No Parole, as he won as the overwhelming favorite in wire-to-wire fashion by 6 ½ lengths.
No Parole has been in fantastic form in morning workouts. He completed 5 furlongs with a time of 57.60 seconds in June, and most recently was sizzling fast over 4 furlongs at 46.42 seconds just last week on July 24. I think No Parole’s success is just getting started. Expect to hear his name plenty in the future as well. He’ll have to dig deep in the stretch to beat this field, but clearing his competition late wouldn’t be too surprising.