A field of eight headed by Fort Larned is set to square off in the Whitney Invitational Handicap (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday, Aug. 3.
Post positions for the race were drawn on Wednesday. Fort Larned, last year’s Whitney winner, drew post position No. 3 and was installed as the 7-5 favorite. From the rail out, the field
consists of: 1. Successful Dan (12-1); 2. Mucho Macho Man (6-1); 3. Fort Larned (7-5); 4. Cross Traffic (5-2); 5. Ron the Greek (6-1); 6. Alpha (10-1); 7. Csaba (20-1); 8. Fast Falcon (15-1).
Ian Wilkes, conditioner of Fort Larned, addressed the draw with NYRA Press.
“It’s just important to get out of the gates and have a good, clean break,” Wilkes said. “That’s probably the key to it all. It’s fine (post position). I’ve learned not to worry about the post position. The horse has always taken care of me.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out Cross Traffic, second choice on the morning line.
“I’m pleased with the draw,” Pletcher said. “I’m happy that we drew outside Fort Larned as I anticipate the two of us will be significant pace factors in the race.”
Trainer Kathy Ritvo will saddle the popular Florida-bred Mucho Macho Man.
“He’s doing great,” she said. “He’s training fantastic. He can’t be doing any better going into the race. The 2 (post position) is not my favorite number. We have a lot of confidence in Edgar (Prado), and I think the horse will do his running. He has some nice speed. He’s quick coming out of the gate. I think he has to get the best position that he can. We’ll see what happens.”
Charles LoPresti, trainer of Successful Dan, expressed some concern with drawing the rail. Successful Dan will be piloted by Julien Leparoux.
“I hope he shows up this time,” said LoPresti. He didn’t run his race at all at Churchill (when 4th in the Stephen Foster to Fort Larned). He’s never run a bad race, and Julien said he just wasn’t handling the track. I’m a little worried about this 1 post. I would have liked to have been mid to outside, but that’s the way it is. We’ll see how they break and let Julien take it from there.”
Since its inaugural running in 1928, only three horses have managed to win multiple editions of the Whitney Invitational Handicap, and only one – Discovery – won consecutive runnings.
Saturday, on the official 150th birthday of Saratoga Race Course, last year’s winner Fort Larned will attempt to join Discovery as he faces seven top older horses in the 86th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney. The 1 1/8-mile race, which will be telecast live on NBC from 5-6 p.m., is a “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup race, with the winner receiving an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic with all pre-entry and entry fees paid and a $10,000 travel award.