It was an exciting weekend of horse racing at Saratoga Park in New York. Here's our wrap-up of Marylou Whitney Day plus this week's latest news.
With the scratch of WORLD OF TROUBLE, the Troy Stakes featured a field of five. ROCKET HEAT set the pace with fast opening quarter of :20.82. LEINSTER tracked wide three back.
At the turn for home, ROCKET HEAT was too fast for himself and lost his speed allowing DISCO PARTNER, PURE SENSATION and LEINSTER to surge past him. DISCO PARTNER held the lead briefly at the eighth pole but LEINSTER found another gear and grabbed the lead at the sixteenth pole, taking the W and the track record with a final time of 1:00.23 for the five and a half furlongs. DISCO PARTNER took second a length ahead of PURE SENSATION.
LEINSTER has an interesting history as he was 0-13 in maiden races and 3 for 3 in allowance and graded stakes races.
The Test Stakes was another thrilling race for the day pitting some strong fillies with excellent records against each other. SERENGETI EMPRESS was first out and went straight to the front setting fractions of :22.19 and :44.28. COVFEFE moved out to four and three wide before catching an eye for the leader.
At the turn for home, the two fillies squared up together for the stretch run and the pair turned the race into a true match race, both refusing to give up the lead. They pounded down the track together with fierce focus for the wire, but COVFEFE managed to get a few steps ahead at the wire. The final time was 1:21.26. Eight and three quarters lengths back was BELLAFINA in third.
The Whitney Stakes, the highlight of the weekend was named after Marylou Whitney, affectionately dubbed "The Queen of Saratoga," thanks to her contributions to racing and the town of Saratoga Springs, New York. She passed away July 19th at 93 years of age. Just a few weeks before her induction into the National Museum Racing and Hall of Fame. Her husband, John Hendrickson, accepted the induction on her behalf Friday and then presented the Whitney trophy on Saturday. He also announced the Marylou Whitney Pavilion would be built at Saratoga as a hospital facility for backstretch workers alongside the New York Governor.
As for the actual race, MCKINIZE left the gates and moved up behind to track PRESERVATIONIST, who set fractions of :23.77 and :47.48. Mike Smith held the colt four wide in second and then asked for more as PRESERVATIONIST weakened. YOSHIDA went seven wide off the turn for home and ran hard to catch MCKINZIE, but he couldn't catch up in time. MCKINZIE took the win in hand followed by YOSHIDA in second and VINO ROSSO in third.
On an already emotional day, this Whitney was particularly special to trainer Bob Baffert, as it was his first Whitney win. MCKINZIE was named after Baffert's friend Brad McKinzie. Brad McKinzie was the Los Alamitos Race Course executive who passed away in 2017.
Colonial Downs Brings Back Thoroughbred Racing
August 8th marks the first Thoroughbred race at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Virginia in nearly six years. 107 horses are entered for the opening day card and will feature 10 races with a post time of 5pm EST. Trainers John Servis, Michael Matz, Graham Motion and Arnaud Delacour will all have horses running. An average of $500,000 in purses will be paid out over the 15 days of racing.
New Saudi Cup Will be the World's Richest Race
Saudi racing officials announced the inaugural Saudi Cup will be held February 29th at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh. The purse of $20 million will make it the world's richest race with $10 million going to the winner. The race will be 1 1/8 miles on the dirt with a field of 14. The race is positioned between the lucrative Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park and the Dubai World Cup (G1) at Meydan. Horses finishing first through third at Gulfstream will receive automatic invitations. The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia will pay stabling fees, feed, vet fees, farrier, flights and accommodations of connections. The race is free to enter and free to run. Purse money will be paid through the 10th place.
Shadai Farm Purchase Breeding Rights to Bricks and Mortar
The breeding rights to BRICKS AND MORTAR, the three time G1 winning son of GIANT'S CAUSEWAY has been purchased by Shadai Farm.
BRICKS AND MORTAR is undefeated this year with more than $4.3 million in earnings. BRICKS AND MORTAR will continue to race in the US through the Breeders' Cup and then will be shipped to Japan following the championships.