Race Report – The Whitney Handicap 2011

Posted by: on Aug 8, 2011 | No Comments

The race meet in Saratoga Spring, NY is one of the great American sporting events, and The Whitney Handicap one of the most exciting and anticipated races of the season.  This was my first year attending, and I must say it more than lived up to expectations.

Saratoga Springs Racetrack is the oldest sporting venue in the United States, founded in 1863.  The following year began the running of the Travers Stakes, named after the founder of the track, and the Whitney started a few years later in 1928.  The Whitney family more famously founded the Saratoga Polo Club, one of the oldest and most successful polo clubs in the States today.  That said, more than a handful of very fine horses, not to mention popular legends like Secretariat, have run The Whitney over the years.  But enough publicity for Saratoga, let’s get to the race itself.

Saturday saw the running of eleven races, with The Whitney being tenth on the schedule.  It’s a nine-furlong (one and one-eighth mile) race for at least three-year-old horses.  A little light rain late in the day might have kept the track from being at ideal conditions, but it did make the betting a little more exciting – there were a handful of horses who were expected to do poorly unless the track was wet, in which case they would be bumped up to favorites.  There was no clear winner heading into the race, and the atmosphere was tense and thrilling until that final moment.

Nine furlongs is a long enough race that pacing and endurance are key.  Tizway, the winner who you can see above out front, clearing the pack as he comes into the final straightaway, was expected to come out strong and fade, but he miraculously spent much of the race in a top position, and pulled out clearly ahead in the final straightaway.  No need for a photo finish on this one.

Tizway’s trainer, a gentleman named James Bond (who decorates his signature training blankets with a 007 for morning workouts), is one of the finest in the sport, yet this ended an almost 15 year dry spell for him at The Whitney.  I fared less gloriously  in my bets on this one, but that’s another story.  If anyone asks, I’ll blame it on the rain.

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