Phil JanackWhitney Surprise
The complexion of the $750,000 Whitney on Saturday was changed with the unexpected entry of Saint Verre at Thursday's post-position draw at Saratoga.
A front-runner who has made four of his last five starts on turf, Saint Verre drew post two, just outside of speedy Left Bank, who is trying nine furlongs for the first time in two seasons.
Street Cry, the 4-5 morning-line favorite, was shipped to Saratoga from Belmont Park Thursday morning. The Dubai World Cup and Stephen Foster winner will break from the outside in the six-horse field.
Also entered are Macho Uno, Unshaded and defending champ Lido Palace.
"The two things I was hoping for the last 24 hours was Saint Verre wouldn't go in and, if he did, we'd draw outside of him," said Left Bank's trainer, Todd Pletcher.
"Obviously, it compromises the way the race is going to unfold. I think had he not decided to go, we would have been the natural speed of the race and that would have made us kind of dangerous."It would have been a huge edge to be loose on the lead, and that was kind of what we were hoping for. We'll have to go to Plan B now."
Lido Palace's trainer, Bobby Frankel, who has won three of the first six stakes at Saratoga this summer, acknowledged that Saint Verre could be a factor in the outcome.
"I originally thought Left Bank was the horse to beat, but with Saint Verre in there he might compromise his chances a little bit," he said. "It's a wide open race. It's probably the best race they've had this year."
NYRA Betting on a Record
The addition of a sixth horse for Saturday's Whitney will enable NYRA to offer triple wagering on the $750,000 race. With Saint Verre in the Whitney field, NYRA officials are predicting to be a record-setting day.
"Oh, it's important. The difference between six horses and five is very, very big," senior vice president Bill Nader said. "From a handle point of view, it's probably an additional 20 percent handle on the race."
The Whitney highlights the 10-race card along with the grade II Amsterdam, to be run one race prior as the eighth.
"It's going to be a record non-Travers Day handle. It's a super card. The weather forecast is coming together, the Amsterdam is also a great race and there's a guaranteed $500, 000 Pick-4. I think we're going to break some records on Saturday."
Make Out to Spinaway
Trainer Linda Rice said Thursday morning that her unbeaten 2-year-old filly Make Out is likely to skip the grade II Adirondack Aug. 12 in favor of the grade I Spinaway 18 days later.
"We're going to point toward the Spinaway," Rice said.
Make Out was impressive in winning Wednesday's eighth race by four lengths with only a few taps of jockey Jose Santos' whip in the stretch.
"She's nominated, and as we get closer to that race I will certainly give it a look," she said, "but the intention is to go to the Spinaway."
In her second career start and second win, Make Out crushed a solid field that included Spinning Wind, Beautiful Treasure, Heart Ofa Champion and Carson Cove, who ran last.
"She's got a lot of natural speed and she's got a good mind, so I've been able to work with her two best assets," Rice said. "It looks like she's going to be able to position herself well. Getting through a maiden race and getting through the next step is, obviously, a big step forward for us. Those were some pretty nice fillies in there. I thought there were five fillies in there that could have won the race into it. I was happy with the result." 'Chasing's Thrills and Spills
Steeplechase rider Blythe Miller suffered a concussion in a frightening spill Wednesday and took off her scheduled mount Thursday.
In the nine-horse steeplechase race on Thursday, two horses fell going over a hurdle, one horse was eased and another left the course. The riders and horses escaped serious injuries.
There have been spills in all three of the steeplechase races ran at Saratoga this season.And the Rains Came
After threatening for most of the day, the skies opened up late Thursday afternoon and turned the main track from fast to muddy in a matter of minutes.
The track condition was downgraded just prior to the seventh race and forced the eighth race off the turf. It was only the second race moved from the grass through eight days, the other was the first race of the meet on July 24. With the move from the turf to the dirts, scratches reduced the field to four starters. Two "main track only" horses were scratched earlier in the day.
Bailey Shut Out
For the first time this season, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey did not win a race on the Saratoga program Thursday. He had four mounts. The seven-time track riding champ has 18 winners, nine more than runner-up John Velazquez.
Sword Dancer Invitational prospect Denon worked for trainer Bobby Frankel on the grass course at the Oklahoma training track Thursday morning.
"I'm sorry I did, the turf course is like a highway out there," Frankel said. "I just keep my fingers crossed that he's OK. I'd never forgive myself if he got hurt. He's a nice, sound horse."
Frankel said he clocked the horse in 1:00 for five furlongs. NYRA clockers had Denon in 1:12.87 for six furlongs. Also working six furlongs on the grass for Frankel Thursday were LaBamta Babe, 1:12.84; and Sumitas, 1:12.89.
With Anticipation, winner of the Sword Dancer last year and the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park in July, worked seven furlongs in 1:25.27, the fastest of five at the distance. Zavata zipped five furlongs in a bullet :59.66, handily, for the Saratoga Special on Aug. 14. The next -fastest time was 1:00.45.