Horse racing fans and bettors alike were treated to another amazing run by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in last Saturday’s William Hill Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. He won going away as a prohibitive favorite to keep his amazing winning streak alive.
This weekend’s horse racing action takes us to Saratoga Park for a pair of Grade 1 stakes races on Saturday’s race card. The first is the Test Stakes for three-year old fillies followed by the Whitney Handicap for three-year olds and up. The following is a look at a few of my top contenders for each race.
2015 Test Stakes- Saratoga Park
The Grade 1 Test Stakes for three-year old fillies is contested on dirt over a distance of seven furlongs. The total prize purse for this race is $500,000.
The filly at the top of my list for sports picks in an expected field of 10 horses is Irish Jasper. This three-year old brings a three-race winning streak into Saturday’s event following her recent victory in the Grade 3 Victory Ride Stakes at Belmont Park on the 4th of July holiday. Trained by Derek Ryan, she has now won six of the nine races she has run going back to a victory in a maiden claimer at Philadelphia Park in her first race as a two-year old.
Another horse high on my list for this year’s Test Stakes is By the Moon. This three-year old filly is coming off a strong second-place run in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont as part of the racing card that featured this year’s Preakness Stakes. Trained by Michelle Nevin, this was the eighth race of her career and she has now finished in the money in six of those runs. By the Moon’s biggest victory came in the Caesar’s Wish Stakes at Laurel Park on March 21.
Famed trainer Todd Pletcher’s entry into this year’s Test Stakes is Angela Renee, but my pick to round-out the top three contenders would be Take Charge Brandi. This three-year old filly also has a high-profile trainer in D. Wayne Lucas and she also has a pair of impressive victories on her resume in a Grade 1 stakes race as a two-year old. First she won the Delta Princess at Delta Downs in late November followed by a win in the Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos on Dec. 13. She also won her only race this year with a victory in the Martha Washington Stakes Oaklawn Park on Jan. 31.
2015 Whitney Handicap- Saratoga Park
The featured race on Saturday’s card at Saratoga is the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap with an expected field of 10 three-year olds and up. It will be contested on dirt over a distance of 1 1/8 miles and the total prize purse for this race is set at $1.25 million.
The field for this year’s Whitney is littered with some solid horses starting with my top pick Noble Bird. This four-year old colt is trained by Mark Casse and coming off a huge victory in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 13. Before that he placed second in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill the month before. Going back over his last eight races, he has finished first or second in seven of those events.
My second favorite for this Saturday would be 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, who gained fame for breaking up California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid. He has been tearing things up as a four-year old colt under the guidance of trainer Christophe Clement. In three races this year, he has won the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes at Belmont followed by a second-place run in both the Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile and the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at that same track.
A few of the other horses that I have figuring into the mix in this year’s Whitney based on their betting odds would be trainer Claude McGaughey III’s Honor Code and Wicked Strong, who is trained by James Jenkins. Honor Code won the Metropolitan Mile this year and Wicked Strong looked sharp with a second-place finish in the Forbidden Apple Stakes at Belmont on July 11.