WHITNEY TOPS BIG SPA WEEKEND
The weekend topper of a fine weekend of racing at Saratoga Race Course is the $750,000 Whitney Invitational H. (G1) for older males. A fine cast has been assembled for this one, with multiple Grade 1 winner Ron the Greek among the notables. Trained by Bill Mott, the much improved son of Full Mandate has not raced since a game tally in the Stephen Foster H. (G1) in June, but has run well fresh and wouldn’t be a shock. The peaking five-year-old has reportedly been training well, also.
Others likely to make this a superb race include Grade 1 winner Flat Out, Donn H. (G1) star Hymn Book, the Mott-trained To Honor and Serve, Endorsement and multiple graded winner Rule, from the shedrow of Todd Pletcher.
The $300,000 Prioress S. (G1) is a six-furlong race for sophomore fillies, and is expected to draw a well-matched and talented field. The Saturday co-feature Emma’s Encore, Jamaican Smoke and Tu Endie Wei, the top three finishers of the Victory Ride S. (G3), as well as multiple stakes heroine Agave Kiss, Judy the Beauty and Well Kept.
The standout race on Sunday is the $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt S. (G1). Likely for this one is recent allowance romper Emcee, Grade 3 winner Hamazing Destiny, Indiano, who was second in the Smile Sprint H. (G2) last out, 2010 Cigar Mile (G1) star Jersey Town, Grade 2 winner Justin Philip and the very good Rothko.
HIRSCH THE HEADLINER AT DEL MAR
A top-heavy field of fine fillies and mares will converge on Del Mar in the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch S. (G1). Among the top draws is multiple Grade 1 heroine Switch, who seems to have gotten her mojo back in a fine A Gleam H. (G2) last time. The John Sadler trainee was a close third in this race a year ago and comes into this in good form.
2011 Matriarch S. (G1) queen Star Billing, three-time graded star Include Me Out, the consistently good Ellafitz and Chilean superstar Amani, who has won 10 of 11 including a 25-length, Group 1 race two back, add to the fine assortment of class in here.
The $150,000 Best Pal S. (G2) will take place on Sunday, for juveniles on the main oval. The superb Amarish didn’t fire in the Hollywood Juvenile (G3) last time, but the Jeff Bonde pupil still has tons of class and could be the one to beat in his local debut.
Scherer Magic went from maiden claimers to a Grade 3 winner in one race, and the John Sadler trainee is no fluke. The swift son of Doneraile Court seems to have two gears and would be no surprise in this spot. Swift Hollywood winner Heir of Storm and Moreno, a fast closing third behind that one at first asking, look like the main players behind the top pair.