The ultra-talented Life Is Goodstreaking Olympiad and fan favorite Hot Rod Charlie are set for a Saturday clash at Saratoga.
Life Is Good (6-5) is morning-line favorite for the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney Stakes. Post time from the Spa is 5:43 pm EDT, with NBC to show the 1 1/8-mile event for 4-and-up runners.
The Whitney awards its victor a “win and you’re in” berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Annually a highlight of the Saratoga meet, past winners include the likes of Dr. Fager, Easy Goer, Kelso, Personal Ensign and War Admiral.
Trainer Todd Pletcher aims for a fourth Whitney crown and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. his third with Life Is Good. The 4-year-old Into Mischief colt sports a 9: 7-1-0 record with $3.55 million earned.
Twice a Grade 1 winner, Life Is Good prepped for the Whitney by winning the John A. Nerud Stakes (G2) on July 2 at Belmont Park. He returns to the site of his only loss on US soil, a neck defeat to Jackie’s Warrior last August in the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes (G1).
Olympiad (2-1) has won five straight races this season for trainer Bill Mott, including the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) on July 2 at Churchill Downs. He earned a 111 Beyer Speed Figure in the Foster, according to the Daily Racing Formtops this year in main-track races of more than a mile.
Hot Rod Charlie (9-2) makes his Saratoga debut and seeks his first Grade 1 win since last September’s Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx. The 2021 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes runner-up adds blinkers after running second June 18 at Monmouth Park in the Salvator Mile Stakes (G3).
Life Is Good’s stablemate Americanrevolution (5-1) won the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) last December at Aqueduct and was second to Olympiad in the Foster. Happy Saver (8-1), a third Pletcher entrant, won the 2020 Jockey Club God Cup Stakes (G1) at Belmont and was runner-up there to Flightline on June 11 in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1).
Here is a look at the field for the 2022 Whitney Stakes (trainer and jockey in parentheses) with morning-line odds:
1. American Revolution (Todd Pletcher, Luis Saez), 5-1
2. Hot Rod Charlie (Doug O’Neill, Flavien Prat), 9-2
3. Zoomer (Mark Casse, Joel Rosario), 30-1
4. Olympiad (Bill Mott, Junior Alvarado), 2-1
5. Happy Saver (Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez), 8-1
6. Life Is Good (Todd Pletcher, Irad Ortiz Jr.), 6-5
TimeformUS’ pace projections show Life Is Good going out to the lead under Ortiz but being followed closely by Hot Rod Charlie.
visit Horse Racing Nation‘s free past performances page for more information on both the Whitney and the West Virginia Derby (G3).
Matt Shifman analyzes the Whitney Stakes field, noting that if Olympiad wants to score his first Grade 1 win, he will have to pass Life Is Good to do it. Hear Shifman and Brian Zipse preview the Whitney and the West Virginia Derby this week on HorseCenter.
Todd Pletcher might be knocking on the door of a fourth Whitney triumph. When post positions were drawn Wednesday, he accounted for half of the six-horse field with Life Is Good, Happy Saver and American Revolution.
Olympiad comes into Saturday’s Whitney Stakes with a shiny five race winning streak, four of them graded stakes. None of the other five Whitney runners, including the imposing Life Is Good, can say that.
Trainer Doug O’Neill hopes the decision to equip ultra-consistent Hot Rod Charlie with blinkers will be a difference-maker in the Whitney Stakes.
If Hot Rod Charlie uses his speed against Life Is Good, Reinier Macatangay writes that the Whitney pace scenario could get interesting.
The first Breeders’ Cup Classic future wager opened Friday and will close Sunday night. Life Is Good opened at 7-2while bettors can also back fellow Whitney starters Americanrevolution, Hot Rod Charlie and Olympiad.
On this week’s Ron Flatter Racing Pod, turf writer Tom Pedulla looks ahead to Saturday’s Whitney Stakes.
Here is a look at other graded stakes taking place Saturday across North America. All post times are EDT.
3:58 pm – $250,000 Glens Falls Stakes (G2), 4-and-up fillies and mares, 1 1/2 miles (peat), Saratoga, FS2
War Like Goddess (1-2) makes the second start of her 5-year-old season, and first since winning the Bewitch Stakes (G3) on April 29 at Keeneland. Bill Mott trains and Joel Rosario rides the English Channel mare, a Grade 1 heroine who won the 2021 Glens Falls. Chad Brown trains Virginia Joy (5-2), a Grade 2 winner who finished fourth June 10 at Belmont Park in the New York Stakes (G1). Petricor (6-1) is a Mott-trained allowance victor who ran fifth July 16 at Laurel Park in the Big Dreyfus Stakes.
4:54 pm – $150,000 (about US $117,000) Ontario Colleen Stakes (G3), 3-year-old fillies, one mile (turf), Woodbine, TVG
Ladywearsthering (5-2) jumps into graded flight off a debut score July 2 at Woodbine for trainer Gail Cox. The Uncle Mo filly will have Justin Stein aboard. Mark Casse trains Souper Hoity Toity (3-1), winner of the local Selene Stakes (G3) on July 2. Grade 3 winner Barbara (5-1) finished third in the Selene for Casse.
4:55 pm – $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes (G3), 3-and-up, 1 1/16 miles, Mountaineer, TVG
Fulsome (3-1) runs for a fourth Grade 3 win in his return to stakes flight off a June 25 allowance win at Churchill Downs. Paco Lopez is riding Saturday in West Virginia and will be in the irons on the 4-year-old Into Mischief colt for trainer Brad Cox. Steve Asmussen trains Grade 2 victor Silver Prospector (4-1), who looks to bounce back off a fifth-place effort July 9 in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3). The Todd Pletcher-trained Promise Keeper (5-1), a Grade 3 winner, has been off the board in three of his last four starts, including in a May 13 allowance race at Churchill.
5:07 pm – $500,000 Test Stakes (G1), 3-year-old fillies, seven furlongs, Saratoga, NBC
Matareya (2-5) is rolling on a four-race winning streak for Brad Cox, highlighted by a 6 1/4-length Acorn Stakes (G1) hull June 11 at Belmont. Flavien Prat gets the call on the Pioneer of the Nile filly. Rudy Rodriguez trains Hot Peppers (5-1), who steps up to Grade 1 flight off a July 9 score in Belmont’s Victory Ride Stakes (G3). Elm Drive (8-1) finished third for former trainer Phil D’Amato in the Great Lady M Stakes (G2) on Independence Day at Los Alamitos and comes east to run for trainer Michelle Nevin.
5:35 pm – $500,000 West Virginia Derby (G3), 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles, Mountaineer, TVG
We the People (2-1), winner of Belmont’s Peter Pan Stakes (G3) in May, returns off a fourth-place result June 11 in the Belmont Stakes. Rodolphe Brisset has tabbed Ricardo Santana Jr. to ride the constitution colt. Antonio Sano trains Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) winner Simplification (5-2), who was sixth May 21 in Pimlico’s Preakness Stakes two weeks after running fourth in the Kentucky Derby. Home Brew (3-1) owns back-to-back stakes wins for Brad Cox, including in the Pegasus Stakes on June 18 at Monmouth Park.
6:20 pm – $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes (G1), 3-year-olds, 1 3/16 miles (peat), Saratoga, FS1
Annapolis (5-2) has won three of his four lifetime starts for Pletcher, including in Belmont’s Manila Stakes as an odds-on favorite July 4. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will pilot the Grade 2 winning War Front colt. Charlie Appleby trains Nations Pride (7-2), who was a late-running second to fellow Saratoga Derby entrant Classic Causeway (8-1) on July 9 in the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1). Stone Age (9-2), a Group 3 winner in Ireland, finished third in the Belmont Derby for trainer Aidan O’Brien.
9:04 pm – $400,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1), 3-and-up fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles, Del Mar, TVG
Shedaresthedevil (8-5), whose three prior Grade 1 wins include the 2021 Hirsch, ships west again to defend her title. Florent Geroux stays aboard the 5-year-old Daredevil mare, winner of the Fleur de Lis Stakes (G2) on July 2 at Churchill, for Brad Cox. Bob Baffert trains Private Mission, who won Santa Anita’s Santa Maria Stakes (G2) on June 18 for trainer Sean McCarthy while Baffert was suspended. Blue Stripe (4-1), a Group 1 winner in Argentina, was runner-up in the Santa Maria for trainer Marcelo Polanco.