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Honor Code was installed as the 3-1 favorite for the Whitney Stakes.
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Coglianese Photos/Courtney Heeney

Honor Code Favored in Sparkling Whitney Field

Saratoga race drew a field of 10, seven of which have previous grade I wins.

Off a scintillating NYRA.com Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) win on the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) undercard, Lane's End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm's Honor Code  was installed as the 3-1 favorite for the Whitney Stakes (gr. I) Saturday, Aug. 8 at Saratoga Race Course.

The four-year-old son of A.P. Indy—Serena's Cat, by Storm Cat, will break from the rail in the 1 1/8-mile race that saw 10 top horses, including seven previous grade I winners, from the handicap division entered Tuesday evening. The race is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race to the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).

Second morning-line choice Tonalist , winner of last year's Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) will break directly to his right. The 4-year-old son of leading sire Tapit  enters off a pair of runner-up finishes in graded stakes at Belmont Park.

Expressing satisfaction about the post, Christophe Lorieul, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement, said, "We were looking for a post between the 2 and the 5."

Tonalist is trying to rebound from runner-up finishes that include a tough head loss to Effinex in the Suburban Handicap (gr. II) July 4 and a second in the Metropolitan Handicap. Those Belmont efforts followed a May 2 win there in the Westchester Stakes (gr. III).

"I really think from a mile on he can run with the best," Clement said. "People thought after he won the Belmont he's a mile-and-a-half horse. Well, he finished second in the Met Mile, so he's not a mile-and-a-half horse. He showed pretty good speed, too. He's a very good horse, that's what it is."

Likely to be leading the pack out of the gate will be trainer Eric Guillot and Southern Equine Stable's Moreno, returning to New York from his California base to defend his Whitney title from last year.

"If you're in front of me," said Guillot to trainer Todd Pletcher, "you went too fast."  

Pletcher will send out two horses that have both shown a propensity for early speed. Seeking his first graded stakes win is 4-year-old Liam's Map , an $800,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September sale.

Beaten in his debut at Saratoga last summer, Teresa Viola Racing Stables' Liam's Map has put together a four-race winning streak dating back to last September. The lightly raced Unbridled's Song colt will break from post 4.

"Of course, we don't want to be head-and-head," said Pletcher of Liam's Map and grade II-winning stablemate Coach Inge, who will break from post 8 with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. "The post gives Irad the option to stalk."  

Also likely to be stalking will be trainer Mark Casse's Noble Bird , owned by John Oxley. Noble Bird will be making his first start since winning the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) June 13 at Churchill Downs.

"He likes to be right behind the pace," said Casse of his Birdstone  colt, who drew post 3. "There will be some speed and hopefully we can sit right behind it." 

Like Pletcher, trainer Jimmy Jerkens will send out two starters, his one-two exacta punch from last year's Travers Stakes (gr. I). Magalen O. Bryant's V. E. Day  and Centennial Farms' Wicked Strong  will start from posts 6 and 9, respectively.

"The post is fine," said Don Little, president of Wicked Strong owner Centennial Farm, of last year's TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) winner. "If he breaks good and gets good position, he should do fine. His last victory was here in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) and he ran well in the Travers, so we're hoping for a good performance."  

"It's a good draw for us," said Cynthia Tucker Curtis, Bryant's U.S. racing manager. "Obviously, he's not going to be on the front end with the speed. His best races have been when he can get a good-moving trip and keep galloping."

Trainer Bill Mott will be represented by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's Lea , a grade I winner who will break from post 7 and was assigned morning line odds of 9-2. 

Completing the field is Fox Hill Farm's grade I-placed Normandy Invasion  (post 10). 

Entries: Whitney S. (G1)

Saratoga Race Course, Saturday, August 08, 2015, Race 9

  • Grade I
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $1,250,000
  • 3 yo's & up
  • 5:46 PM (local)
PPHorseJockeyWgtTrainerM/L
11Honor Code (KY)Javier Castellano124Claude R. McGaughey III-
22Tonalist (KY)John R. Velazquez124Christophe Clement-
33Noble Bird (KY)Shaun Bridgmohan124Mark E. Casse-
44Liam's Map (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMike E. Smith117Todd A. Pletcher-
55Moreno (KY)Cornelio H. Velasquez124Eric J. Guillot-
66V. E. Day (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJunior Alvarado124James A. Jerkens-
77Lea (KY)Joel Rosario124William I. Mott-
88Coach Inge (KY)Irad Ortiz, Jr.121Todd A. Pletcher-
99Wicked Strong (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateLuis Saez124James A. Jerkens-
1010Normandy Invasion (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateKerwin D. Clark117J. Larry Jones-