Horse Racing Betting: Gun Runner Leads Trifecta Pick at Whitney Stakes

David Schwab

Wednesday, August 2, 2017 1:02 PM UTC

Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017 1:02 PM UTC

The first horse racing betting weekend in August is highlighted by the running of the $1.2 million Whitney Stakes for some of the top thoroughbreds in the nation. This much anticipated event is Saturday’s main attraction on a full card of major stakes racing at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York.

A strong field on entries continues to take shape for this year’s Whitney moving closer to post time Saturday at Saratoga. I have narrowed down the list of probables to come up with a trio of horses that come together perfectly to form my winning trifecta pick.


2017 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga

The Whitney Stakes is a Grade 1 stakes race for 3-year-old thoroughbreds and up. The total prize purse has been set at $1.2 million and the race will be contested on the dirt track at Saratoga over a distance of 1 1/8 miles.

Right now it looks like there will be seven entries for the main event at Saratoga. At the top of most horse racing bettors' lists as well as mine is trainer Steve Asmussen’s Gun Runner. He appears to be the class of the field with a No. 3 ranking by Horse Racing Nation along with a lofty rating of 9.0. The fact that this 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt is coming off an impressive victory in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 17 at a distance of 1 1/8 miles is the main reason why he is my top pick to win.

Sired by Candy Ride, he has now finished first or second in his last six events dating back to a second-place finish in both the 2016 Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby and the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. His other victory this season was in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

My second choice for this year’s Whitney would be Keen Ice fresh off his victory in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont over a distance of 1 ¼ miles on July 8. This 5-year-old Kentucky-bred colt is trained by Todd Pletcher and appears to be getting better with age. His best runs have been at longer distances, but I still like him to be right in the mix on Saturday given his current racing form.

This son of Curlin comes into this race ranked 50th by HRN with a rating of 8.13. Going back to his third-place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, he has finished in the money in three of the five events he has entered. Keen Ice is on track for another appearance in this year’s Classic based on his performance of this race.

Rounding out my trifecta pick for this race would be trainer Jorge Navarro’s War Story. He is another veteran thoroughbred coming off a victory his last time out after taking first in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational at Belmont on June 10 at a distance of 1 ½ miles. The Kentucky-bred 5-year-old gelding placed third in this year’s Grade 2 Charles Town Classic back in late April at a distance of 1 1/8 miles after fading to fifth in the field for the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park to start his 2017 campaign.

With a HRN ranking of No. 220 and a rating of 7.44, this pedigree of Northern Afleet has a very good shot at working his way into the money on Saturday despite some of the stiff competition he is likely to face down the stretch from the likes of Breaking Lucky and possibly Tu Brutas.

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