Pricci's Saratoga Diary
For the next 40 days of New York racing, Executive Editor John Pricci will provide his insights on all things Saratoga for the 35th consecutive year in his original "Saratoga Diary." It debuted in 1977, the year Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown and Jatski was placed first in the Travers Stakes following the disqualification of Run Dusty Run. So keep up with the cold exactas, hot issues, and build your own stable of live horses, all from John's unique perspective, exclusively at

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

They Said It All at Whitney Draw

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 30, 2014—It’s not often when two Travers winners and a Belmont winner meet after their three-year-old year and they will on Saturday.

And one of them, last year’s Belmont Stakes and this year’s Met Mile winner, Palace Malice, the top ranked horse in the country according to the latest NTRA poll, will try to put some separation between himself, Saturday’s eight rivals, and the glamorous three-year-old class with designs on a Horse of the Year championship.

He’s even money on Saturday and a little higher than that in the Horse of the Year future book; 5-2 co-favorite with dual classics winner California Chrome. If you like those odds—too short for me—get down now, not Saturday evening.

There were some interesting and fun quotes from the post draw, starting with Darrell Wayne Lukas, on Will Take Charge drawing the Whitney rail: “I hate to have an upset stomach this early in the morning. Not good. I never really have much luck on the rail in any big race.”

From Eric Guillot and his strategy with Moreno: “I’m going to tell you now: If you’re in front of me, you went too fast.”

Ken McPeek, on the $1.5 million purse: “The purse right now, it’s hard to turn your nose up at it. Even if you run third or fourth, it’s not a bad day at the office.”

Al Stall Jr., on the comparison between Blame and Departing: I say there is no comparison. There is only one Blame…If he doesn’t fare well [here], he’s going on the low road again.”

Dale Romans on running in big races: “I think this is the 10-year anniversary of Roses in May winning the Whitney, which was my first Grade 1. We’re creeping up on 30, but I’m not sure exactly—about as many as Wayne has won in one year.”

Todd Pletcher, on what’s made Palace Malice such a good four year old: “He really is an iron horse. He’s an uncomplicated horse. He’s hearty, he stays in the feed tub, you can train him however you want.

“[In the New Orleans Handicap] it was back in three weeks and we were concerned about that and he actually ran enormous that day. I think he likes the action.”

As do we all. The good news is that we’ve got three days to find an alternative to the even money favorite. The bad news is that may not be possible.

A turf sprint star was born in the Coronation Cup for three year old filly turf sprinters. The imported Stars Above Me was slammed so hard at the start that she had every right to not bother at all.

Instead, she dragged a confident and talented Irad to the lead between horses, she waited behind dueling leaders while saving ground at the turn, waited again for a seem to open on the inside, bursting through and drawing off. This is a filly with a future within the division; follow…

Brandini was much the best winning the second race, a state-bred maiden claimer, rallying wide on the turn then drawing off through the lane, looking very much like a repeater if spotted properly by 007 H. James Bond next time out.

That’s easier done than said because Bond is pushing all the right buttons this meet; 3-for-5 before having a 25-1 chance run third later on in the program; note...

Willet is simply, in racetrack vernacular, a sweetheart. The six year old mare obviously has her issues, making only her 17th start in the day’s third event. Winning as much the best, the New York bred mare improved her career slate to 8-6-1. Amazing job by part-owner, trainer Jimmy Iselin.

Meanwhile, Here’s Zealicious jumped up in the start just as her gate opened and was totally eliminated. Will be very tough vs. weaker set next out.

Rock Me Mama was much the best at 7 furlongs in the fourth, launching a strong, wide rally mid-turn before drawing off. It was her first start at a reduced level since claimed as a December two year old and should repeat if not pitched too high. Alaskan Bird was carried wide in the final furlong by a drifting Da Wildcat Girl and kept grinding; bet back in similar spot.

Myfourchix, bet early and often, did all the hard work in a state-bred special weight for juvenile fillies but succumbed late to the fast working Nonna Jo, racing well despite being washed in the the paddock and post parade. Perfect Freud finished well late when fourth in a useful effort; note.

First-timer Throckmorton, a gelded three year old making debut going a mile on turf in the finale, was loaded approaching the eighth pole but was completely trapped inside and never had a chance; bet back.

Written by John Pricci

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