Cross Traffic wins 2013 Whitney Invitational Handicap. Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire.
Most of America’s famed stakes have a long history that can sometimes provide important nuggets of information for handicappers.
This past Saturday’s Whitney Handicap was one of those races.
As much as Fort Larned - who won the 2012 Whitney, not to mention the Breeders’ Cup Classic – was a legitimate favorite in the 86th edition of the race, finding a logical contender to beat him became easier by looking back on past runnings of the race.
In this instance, Cross Traffic, though he had never raced beyond a mile, became a more viable option after reviewing the Whitney’s recent history.
What stood out was the correlation between the Metropolitan Handicap and the Whitney. In 2011, the Met Mile winner, Tizway, won the Whitney in his next start. The year before that Quality Road exited a victory in the Met Mile and finished second by a head to Blame in the Whitney.
BLAME WINS 2010 WHITNEY INVITATIONAL HANDICAP
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire.
Cross Traffic, meanwhile, came into the Whitney after a nose loss in the Met Mile.
Looking at those results in 2011 and 2010, it appeared as if the transition from a one-turn mile at Belmont Park to a two-turn mile-and-an-eighth at Saratoga had not been problematic. Understanding that, it seemed a reasonable conclusion that Cross Traffic had an excellent chance to use his razor-sharp speed to upset Fort Larned.
As it played out, like Tizway and Quality Road, Cross Traffic moved forward off the Met Mile and was simply too quick for his seven rivals. Quickly taking the lead, Cross Traffic never looked back and captured the Whitney by three-quarters of a length at 7-2 odds.
THE LESSON: Paying attention to the history of a stakes can often uncover a pattern or trend that might come into play in this year’s edition.