Saratoga: Recent trends in Week 4 Saturday stakes

August 2nd, 2023

There are four graded stakes scheduled for the fourth Saturday of the Saratoga meet, but we'll focus this week's trends piece on just two: the $1 million Whitney (G1) for older horses going 1 1/8 miles, and the $500,000 Test (G1), a seven-furlong dash for three-year-old fillies.

Here are notable trends in the Whitney and Test over the past decade.

Whitney (G1)

It's been hard to look past the favorite in the Whitney in its last 10 renewals. Six post-time favorites have won, with five of them being odds-on choices. Another, Knicks Go (2021), was barely over even-money. The only true heavy favorite to fluff his lines was Palace Malice (2014), who finished sixth at odds of around 3-5.

Pace-setting speed in the Whitney has been truly dangerous. Cross Traffic (2013), Moreno (2014), Frosted (2016), Diversify (2018), Knicks Go, and Life Is Good (2022) made every pole a winning one. Three other winners — Gun Runner (2017), McKinzie (2019), and Improbable (2020) — were never worse than second at any point in the race.

The only horse to buck the trend entirely was Honor Code (2015), who just got up to beat the pace-setting Liam's Map by a neck after trailing that rival by more than 19 lengths after a half-mile.

The Whitney has made a significant impact on the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) in the last decade. Mucho Macho Man (3rd, 2013), Gun Runner (1st, 2017), Vino Rosso (3rd, 2019), and Knicks Go (1st, 2021) all competed in the Whitney before winning the Classic, while Whitney participants Honor Code, McKinzie, Improbable, and Olympiad (2022) all placed in the Classic.

Whitney winners Honor Code, Gun Runner, Improbable, and Knicks Go were all voted champion older dirt male, with Gun Runner and Knicks Go also earning Horse of the Year honors.

Test (G1)

Favorites have tended to run well in the Test. In the last 10 years, five post-time favorites have won, another finished second, and three others placed third. The only one not to hit the board was Kareena (2016), who finished sixth of seven and ran only once more before she was retired.

There have been only two winners during the span that have gone off at double-digit odds. Paola Queen blew the tote board to Ballston Spa when returning $112 in 2016, while Chi Town Lady scored a lesser upset 12 months ago and paid $36.

Winning the Test in gate-to-wire fashion has been hard to do. The only filly in the last decade to accomplish that feat was eventual sprint champion Gamine (2020), who romped by seven lengths against four overmatched rivals as the 3-10 favorite.