2022 Whitney Stakes Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

Racing
Olympiad, left, and Life Is Good, right, are two of the top contenders for the $1 million Whitney Stakes Aug. 1 at Saratoga Race Course. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The $1 million, Grade 1 Whitney Stakes is one of the most important races in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic division as well as one of the marquee races of summer in U.S. horse racing. Simply put, the Whitney can often be a career-defining victory for its winner.

This 1 1/8-mile dirt race at Saratoga Race Course drew a star-studded cast in 2022 that includes two of the fastest dirt horses in training in Life Is Good and Olympiad.

The Whitney will be broadcast live on NBC Saturday as part of that network’s “Road to the Breeders’ Cup” coverage during a show from 5-6 p.m. ET.

Past winners of the Whitney include racing stars such as Discovery (1934, 1935, 1936), War Admiral (1938), Gallorette (1948), Tom Fool (1953), Kelso (1961, 1963, 1965), Carry Back (1962), Dr. Fager (1968), Alydar (1978), Slew o’ Gold (1984), Lady’s Secret (1986), Personal Ensign (1988), Easy Goer (1989), Awesome Again (1998), Invasor (2006), and Gun Runner (2017) … and, really, we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to the rich history of this race that dates back to 1928.

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Without further ado, let’s take a look at the field for the 2022 Whitney Stakes. 


Eclipse Sportswire

1. Americanrevolution (5-1)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm

Career record: 9 starts – 5 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $1,090,310

Earnings per start: $121,146

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 120

Pedigree: Constitution – Polly Freeze, by Super Saver

Age: 4

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Last year’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap Presented by NYRA Bets victor is winless in two starts as a 4-year-old in 2022, but you could argue he enters the Whitney off a career-best race. He finished second to Olympiad, beaten by 2 ¼ lengths, in the $750,000 Stephen Foster Stakes July 2 at Churchill Downs to earn the top Equibase Speed Figure (120) of his career. This is a very talented colt who has only finished outside of the top three once in eight starts since an unplaced finish in his career debut in October 2020. He also ran extremely well in his lone start on this main track, winning the Albany Stakes in August 2021 by five lengths while posting a 111 Equibase Speed Figure in his fourth career race. Americanrevolution will face what very likely will be the toughest competition of his career in the Whitney, but he should not be overlooked as a longshot win candidate and definitely a horse with a strong chance at a top-three finish at what profiles as his best distance. Trainer Todd Pletcher is seeking his fourth win in the Whitney, having previously win in 2002 with Left Bank, in 2007 with Lawyer Ron, and in 2013 with Cross Traffic. Owners WinStar Farm and CHC Inc. were part-owners of 2020 Whitney winner Improbable.


Eclipse Sportswire

2. Hot Rod Charlie (9-2)

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: Doug O'Neill

Owners: Boat Racing, Gainesway Stable, Roadrunner Racing, and William Strauss

Career record: 16 starts – 4 wins – 5 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $5,151,200

Earnings per start: $321,950

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 118

Pedigree: Oxbow – Indian Miss, by Indian Charlie

Age: 4

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: One of the most popular racehorses in training, Hot Rod Charlie is a Grade 1 winner who ran second in several of the sport's most important races: the 2020 TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, the 2021 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, the 2021 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (via disqualification), and this year’s Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline. He's won his share of big races, but the main point is he generally brings his ‘A’ game to the biggest stages, so expect him to be in the hunt in the Saratoga stretch in the Whitney. Hot Rod Charlie, or “Chuck” as his owners refer to him, has the versatility to press or set the pace or drop back and stalk the pace if the tempo is fast early. He’s also best at this distance, having finished first in each of his three starts at 1 1/8 miles; however, he was disqualified on one of those starts in last year’s TVG.com Haskell Stakes. Hot Rod Charlie is about as consistent as you’ll find a racehorse, so expect him to run a very good race and let the chips fall where they may. He’s a must-use on exacta and trifecta tickets. 


3. Zoomer (30-1)

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: Gary Barber

Career record: 37 starts – 11 wins – 6 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $502,150

Earnings per start: $13,572

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 109

Pedigree: Curlin – Rasindy, by A.P. Indy

Age: 6

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: With more than double the number of lifetime starts than any other entrant in the Whitney field, Zoomer is the grizzled veteran of the bunch fresh off being claimed for $50,000 by trainer Mark Casse on behalf of owner Gary Barber. He finished third in his lone previous attempt in a graded stakes race in the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes in May of this year. It’s not the typical profile of a Whitney starter, to say the least, but on the positive side of the ledger he comes out of a seven-length runaway win at this track and distance on July 17 and his Equibase Speed Figures would suggest that a top-three finish is not completely out of the question. That said, Zoomer will be the longest shot in the field for good reason against a small, but supremely gifted cast for the Whitney and would need to run the race of his life just to round out the trifecta. Joel Rosario, currently second in the jockeys’ standings at Saratoga, has two wins in the Whitney with Frosted in 2016 and Knicks Go last year.


Eclipse Sportswire

4. Olympiad (2-1)

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owners: Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stable, and LNJ Foxwoods

Career record: 10 starts – 7 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $1,407,560

Earnings per start: $140,756

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 123

Pedigree: Speightstown – Tokyo Time, by Medaglia d'Oro

Age: 4

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Unbeaten in five starts this season, Olympiad has really not been tested this year with each of his victories coming by two lengths or more at odds ranging from 3-5 to 3-2. His 2 ¼-length runaway win in the $750,000 Stephen Foster Stakes July 2 at Churchill Downs earned Olympiad a career-top 123 Equibase Speed Figure, tied for fastest in the field, and cemented his status as a bona-fide top contender for the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic. Olympiad is 2-for-2 at this 1 1/8-mile distance, but two of his three lifetime defeats did come on this main track at Saratoga Race Course, albeit in sprints in the first three starts of his career. Olympiad is in absolute peak form right now in a race at his best distance, so if you can overlook the ghosts of Saratoga past in his past performances, he looks like a top win candidate and probable second beting choice behind Life Is Good. Despite his many career successes, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has never won the Whitney. Olypiad’s jockey, Junior Alvarado, guided Moreno to a win in the 2014 edition.


Eclipse Sportswire

5. Happy Saver (8-1)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: Alain and Gerard Wertheimer

Career record: 10 starts – 5 wins – 4 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $988,300

Earnings per start: $98,830

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 116

Pedigree: Super Saver – Happy Week, by Distorted Humor

Age: 5

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Happy Saver won the first five starts of his racing career but has not won in five starts since that winning streak; in fairness, that winless stretch includes four seconds and one third as he has never finished outside the top three in any race.  Making his third start of 2022 following an extended layoff, Happy Saver could be poised to regain his peak form after runner-up finishes in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes Presented by Sentient Jet and Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap. He earned the best Equibase Speed Figure of his career to date, 116, at this track and distance in July 2020 and is proven at this level as a Grade 1 winner. Hailing from the family of 1992 Horse of the Year and influential sire A.P. Indy, the 5-year-old by Super Saver very likely will need a career-best effort to win the Whitney — he is not quite as fast as a few others on paper — but he should be considered a viable win candidate and, perhaps, a runner to key bets around in the trifecta. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Whitney three times: Left Bank (2002), Lawyer Ron (2007), and Cross Traffic (2013). Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has won the Whitney four times, three of them for Pletcher on Left Bank, Lawyer Ron and Cross Traffic. His other win came aboard Commentator for Nick Zito in 2008, that horse’s second Whitney win.


Eclipse Sportswire

6. Life Is Good (6-5)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm

Career record: 9 starts – 7 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $3,551,700

Earnings per start: $394,633

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 123

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Beach Walk, by Distorted Humor

Age: 4

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Life Is Good very likely will vie with Olympiad for favoritism in the Whitney as they profile as the two fastest horses in the field with career-best Equibase Speed Figures of 123. Expect this 4-year-old by Into Mischief to go right to the front and try to win leading from start to finish. Life Is Good has set the pace in each of his nine career races and on seven occasions he came out on top. Last year’s Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner and this year’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup victor has shown he can set a swift pace and have plenty of fuel in reserve to dominate. Six of his seven career wins have come by margins ranging from 3 ¼ to 9 ½ lengths. Life Is Good’s two career losses were far from disappointing as he was beaten by a neck last August at Saratoga by eventual champion sprinter Jackie’s Warrior in a Grade 1 sprint and faded to finish fourth at 1 ¼ miles in the Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline. That was a long-winded way to say that Life Is Good is one of the fastest and classiest racehorses on the planet and probably will be favored in the Whitney when the starting gates open. While he did lose his only start at Saratoga, arguably the best race of his career came at this 1 1/8-mile distance in the Pegasus World Cup. I don’t see any other contenders capable of matching strides with Life Is Good early, and if allowed to set an uncontested pace he will be very tough to beat. Owners WinStar Farm and CHC Inc. were part-owners of 2020 Whitney winner Improbable; trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Whitney three times: Left Bank (2002), Lawyer Ron (2007), and Cross Traffic (2013). Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., the current leading rider at Saratoga this summer, won the Whitney in 2018 aboard Diversify and in 2020 on Improbable.


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