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Blog - GAMBLING

Itsmyluckyday rates as Predicteform's value play for the 2014 Whitney, a Grade 1 race on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course that will be televised on NBC with coverage beginning at 5 p.m. ET. (Photo By Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

In-depth analysis of the Whitney Stakes, including Pace Figures and Form Cycle Pattern for each starter. Please refer to the Legend or Pattern Guide for back-up definitions and patterns.

The Grade 1 Whitney Stakes is the crown jewel of the Saratoga Race Course meet as some of the top horses in the country compete for a purse of $1.5-million and an entry into the Breeders' Cup Classic in this “Win and You're In” event. And, while the race is carded for 3-year-olds and older, only older horses (4 to 6 years old) are competing in this year's race.

Note – this analysis is written as if the race is to be run on a fast track, there is a chance of rain in the forecast.

Get the Pace Figures for the Whitney Stakes here.

Will Take Charge (4-to-1)

The leading money earner in the field, Will Take Charge has banked more than $3.7-million in his racing career. Legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas has done a great job keeping him in top shape and made a big jockey move going back to Luis Saez (from injured Gary Stevens), who has four wins and three seconds in sevens starts on Will Take Charge.

Looking at his Pace Figures, his most recent final figure was 80, a bounce-back from the 75.3 on 5-to-2. Speaking of which, it was no surprise to see a 75.3 at that point, given Will Take Charge had six final figures north of 78 in a row. Using the basic view on Predicteform, you can see his four-furlong figure has never been bigger than his final figure, a true sign of a classic distance runner.

WIll Take Charge PF
The Play: Contender – The class of the field and with a jockey change, Will Take Charge looks like he is rounding back into form.

Prayer for Relief (20-to-1)

The only 6-year-old in the field, he's a hard-knocking veteran horse who has earned more than $1.7-million over the course of five years. Looking back at lifetime past performances, Prayer for Relief has won two Grade 2s and a Grade 3 but has been unable to compete in Grade 1 company.

The one item to note in his Pace Figures is the three race CPT Pattern (Cyclical Pace Top). This designation of CPT is for older runners who hit its highest 4f Pace Figure over the course of 10 races. Looking back at his nine previous races, you can see a CPT comes every three races and has increased over the nine race period from 77 – 77.6 – 78.5.

Prayerfor Relief PF

The Play: Too Slow – his best doesn't hit the board, though the CPT designation could be interesting for a longshot to run fourth if you are cagey enough to play superfectas (first four in a row).


Moreno (10-to-1)

With only two wins from 19 lifetime starts, Moreno has the fewest wins and lowest winning percentage in the field. His trainer, Eric Guillot, is still eating crow after last year's ridiculous accusations following the Travers Stakes. Moreno is an example of a true front-runner, a horse who has to be on the lead to have a chance to win.

Supporting the notion that Moreno loves the lead, you can see a number of his four-furlong figures are in the mid-to-high 70s, considered very high for a 1 1/8-mile race. Also, note his “bullet” workout (the fastest of the day) on July 26, which looks like a strong tune-up for a front-running speedball.

Moreno PF

The Play: Fringe Contender – Final Pace Figures are a couple points short of the best, but the track has been favoring speed and if he gets an uncontested speed, Moreno could hit the board.

Itsmyluckyday (12-to-1)

A serious racehorse in his 3-year-old year, Itsmyluckyday ran second in the 2013 Preakness Stakes before getting injured in June 2013. Over the course of the last three races, he has quickly rounded back into form, most recently posting an 81.5 Final Pace Figure.

Speaking of his last race and the 81.5, if you watch the replay (which we encourage), jockey Paco Lopez spent more time looking back than forward, letting him coast to the finish line in almost a goofy coasting style, clearly indicating he had more in the tank.

Itsmyluckyday PF

The Play: Value Play – The 81.5 final figure in his last gets Itsmyluckyday right in the mix, and while it was a lifetime top (which is of some concern), the style in which he won the race and his back class make for a value bet.


Palace Malice (1-to-1)

The top-ranked Thoroughbred runner in the country, Palace Malice is a perfect 4-for-4 in 2014. Trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez team up with this superstar and the duo has won at a 41% clip thus far at the 2014 Saratoga meet. He is 2-for-3 at Saratoga, which gives him more wins on this track than any other runner.

His Pace Figures have been consistent, averaging 79+ the last four starts, most recently running an 81.9. The 81.9 final figure was near a lifetime top (82.9 in the 2013 Jim Dandy at the Spa), following which, he regressed six points in his next start to 76.5.

Palace Malice PF

The Play: Contender – must respect his chances but with a chance to regress and an even-money morning-line favorite provide no value to support.

Departing (6-to-1)

Here's what we had to say about Departing prior to his most recent start in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster:

A well-managed runner with only 10 lifetime starts, this colt is a Claiborne Farm-type runner inside and out. (Stallion War Front stands at Claiborne for $150,000 while the dam, Leave, is also Claiborne-bred). His last effort was a 78.3/80.1 New Pace Top (NPT – fastest 4f figure of career without a lifetime final top), which is even more impressive coming off a seven-month layoff (9/29/13 – 4/30/14). His improving 4f figures with consistent competitive final figures indicate a runner who is showing a tactical ability to stalk the pace. There is significant value here at 9-to-2 on the morning line.

While he ran well enough with a 78.9 final figure, Departing did not have the late kick to get him to the finish line first. It was his second start off a layoff, which could be excusable, but there is a still a question of if he can run a final figure of 80 which it will take to win here.

Departing PF
The Play: Fringe Contender – still looking for that break out Grade 1 win, Departing should be in the mix and there is a chance he could put in a lifetime best here. Value here if he stays above his morning line odds of 6-to-1.

Romansh (10-to-1)

Ran a decent third to Palice Malice while posting a 79.3 on June 7. Another runner who has won a Grade 3 but yet to compete at the Grade 1 level. Turning to his Pace Figures, he is on a steady decline with his final figure going from 81.9 – 79.3 – 75.3 in his most recent start.

Romansh PF

The Play: Regressor – would need a lifetime best in here to hit the board, which seems unlikely based on his current form cycle.

Golden Ticket (20-to-1)

He shocked the racing world by winning the Grade 1 Travers (for 3-year-olds) in the summer of 2012 but has yet to get back to that Grade 1 level. His lifetime top was a 79.7 in March 2014, and he’s regressed in his final figure since then down to his most recent effort of 71.6, the slowest final figure of all the runners.

Golden Ticket PF
The Play: Too Slow – even his best lifetime effort would probably not hit the board.

Last Gunfighter (15-to-1)

Competitive at the Grade 2 and Grade 3 level, turf specialist trainer Chad Brown teams up with leading jockey Javier Castellano on this longshot. His final Pace Figures of 74.2 – 74.7 – 74.7 (most recent) are a significant step below the field.

Last Gunfighter PF
The Play: Too Slow – no reason to expect anything more than a 75-76 as a final figure which is not enough against these Grade 1 runners.

$1.5-million Whitney Handicap
Saturday, Saratoga, Race 10, Post Time 5:46 PM E.T.
One and One Eighth Miles, for Three-Year-Olds and Up

PP

Horse

Jockey

Weight

Trainer

1

Will Take Charge 

Luis Saez

124

D. Wayne Lukas

2

Prayer for Relief 

Joel Rosario

117

Dale L. Romans

3

Moreno

Junior Alvarado

117

Eric J. Guillot

4

Itsmyluckyday 

Paco Lopez

119

Edward Plesa Jr.

5

Palace Malice

John R. Velazquez

124

Todd A. Pletcher

6

Departing 

Robby Albarado

121

Al Stall Jr.

7

Romansh 

Jose L. Ortiz

119

Thomas Albertrani

8

Golden Ticket 

Julien R. Leparoux

117

Ken McPeek

9

Last Gunfighter 

Javier Castellano

121

Chad C. Brown

Tune in to Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 10 for the Saratoga Special Stakes
and on Aug. 17 for the Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes.

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Dan Zucker

Dan Zucker is a co-founder of Predicteform.com (formerly Equiform.com) as well as PredictionMachine.com.

He was part of the HRTV launch team in the early 2000s and runs a sports media company, Zucker Media Group, Inc. based in Seattle, Wash.

Zucker is a Thoroughbred owner and partner and has campaigned such runners as Quiet Meadow and Street Life as well as his current pride and joy, Pianist (pictured above), a graded stakes-winning turf mare.

Read more about the history of Predicteform.com here.

Image Description

Dan Zucker

Dan Zucker is a co-founder of Predicteform.com (formerly Equiform.com) as well as PredictionMachine.com.

He was part of the HRTV launch team in the early 2000s and runs a sports media company, Zucker Media Group, Inc. based in Seattle, Wash.

Zucker is a Thoroughbred owner and partner and has campaigned such runners as Quiet Meadow and Street Life as well as his current pride and joy, Pianist (pictured above), a graded stakes-winning turf mare.

Read more about the history of Predicteform.com here.

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