Flat Out Betting Favorite At Whitney Handicap
By: Jeff Grant
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Saratoga Race Course will send off a field of 11 horses for a 1 1/8-mile journey around the track Saturday in the Grade I Whitney Handicap. Connections will be vying for a piece of the $750,000 purse and fans that are unable to attend in person can watch all the excitement on VERSUS starting at 2:00 p.m. (PT).
The 84th renewal of the race has even greater implications than the cash prize as it’s part of the “Win and You’re In” series that will automatically qualify the winner into the field for the Breeders Cup Classic on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
Flat Out (4/1) drew the rail position with jockey Alex Solis aboard and has gained the distinction of being the morning-line favorite. The betting public will support him at the windows due to a brilliant 6 1/2-length victory in the Grade II Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park on July 2.
The five-year-old out of Flatter has been the betting favorite just once in his career, winning a $42,000 maiden special weight event over six furlongs as a two-year-old at Fair Grounds.
Tizway (6/1) is no stranger to the rigors of racing against Grade I competition, winning the one-mile Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park and has been freshened since that race on May 30. Handicappers certainly have their questions in whether the six-year-old can get the distance of this race, but the horse appears to be in top condition after firing a five-furlong bullet in 1:00.34 over the training track last week.
His last attempt at the distance came in the Charlestown Classic (G3) on April 16, finishing third behind one of the entries for this particular race.
Duke of Mischief (8/1) was the winner of that aforementioned race, but then failed to deliver in the Stephen Foster Handicap, as he was forced five-wide in finishing in fourth position. The outside post position is not likely to be a concern for jockey Joe Bravo at the start, as the lifetime winner of seven races has made his run from way off the pace in his last two starts.
Friend or Foe (8/1) will break from the No. 2 post and will be part of the field as long as the track is listed as fast come Saturday. The only New York-bred in the race was scratched from the $75,000 Evan Shipman due to a sloppy track on July 25. With Solis opting to ride the early favorite, trainer John Kimmel has placed rider Jose Lezcano in the irons.
The expected game plan is likely to sit just behind Mission Impazible (6/1) and get first jump on the rest of the field as they turn for home.
In a highly contentious field, Morning Line (10/1) is likely to offer great value heading into the starting gate and bettors may benefit from one of the great jockey-trainer combinations in the game. The Nick Zito-trainee will be ridden by John Velazquez, who has piloted the horse to all four of his career victories.
His only victory over the 2011 campaign came two starts back, winning the Carter Handicap (G1) against a field of eight horses at seven furlongs. Hitting the board in all four of his career races at this distance also packs a punch, including an 11-length romp on this oval on Aug. 21, 2010.