BONUS: This week on The Player's Edge, Rich discusses the trio of Breeders' Cup Challenge races, win and you're in: The Whitney Stakes and The Personal Ensign at Saratoga along with the Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar!
Picking the Whitney Stakes winner has been easy the last four-years. Put your money on the favorite is all the handicapping skill any horseplayer needed. FROSTED, GUN RUNNER, DIVERSIFY and last year's champ MCKINZIE all left the gate as the public's top post-time pick since 2016.
Prior to FROSTED running into 2016's winners' circle, only one of the previous six to take the Whitney's checkered flag was the chalk. Although only have won in the last 10 years, the 1 1/8 race on Saratoga's main track has been good to favorites as eight finished in-the-money. So, you've got to have the post-time fav on your tickets.
Beyond odds, we analyzed the last 10 Whitney Stakes to build our “Profile of a Winner.” One thing all of the past 10 to wear the crown shared is they hit triple-digits on Equibase's speed gun. Only, MR. BUFF (PP: 4), out of the field of five, failed to hit 100 or more in his last start. Prior to a poor effort in the Grade II, Suburban Stakes at Belmont, the son FRIEND OR FOE ran four straight of 100 or more.
All the previous winners also finished first or second in a Graded Stakes race in their outing prior to the Whitney. The remaining quartet all ran in Graded Stakes in their last outings. CODE OF HONOR (PP: 3) was the only to not finish in the top two. He finished third behind an amazing performance by VEKOMA in the Grade I, Metropolitan Stakes at Belmont.
Moving CODE OF HONOR off the “Profile of a Winner” list leaves three, BY MY STANDARDS (PP: 1), IMPROBABLE (PP: 2) and TOM'S D'ETAT (PP: 5).
Six of the last seven winners were forwardly placed early on, with four on the lead and the other two racing second at the 1/4 mile marker. Although he ran second at the first call in his last start, the Grade I, Gold Cup at Santa Anita, IMPROBABLE typically runs a more patient race. Trainer Bob Baffert's horse was only in the top two at the jump in two of his last 10 starts.
In a short field, jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr could have IMPROBABLE close to the front, but he finished behind TOM'S D'ETAT and CODE OF HONOR when he raced against them. Additionally, BY MY STANDARDS and TOM'S D'ETAT, while not true frontrunners, have more of history of racing first or second out of the chute than IMPROBABLE.
Now we are down to two, BY MY STANDARDS and TOM'S D'ETAT. The tiebreaker is straightforward. The duo matched up in their last race, the Grade II, Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs. It wasn't close. TOM'S D'ETAT smoked the field for his fourth straight win, beating runner-up BY MY STANDARDS by 4 1/4 lengths.
There you have it, TOM'S D'ETAT best fits the Profile of a Winner for the 2020 Whitney Stakes and he's also likely to be the post-time favorite. We have the seven-year-old as the top pick in our 2020 Whitney Stakes Wagering Guide commentary:
TOM'S D'ETAT has three wins in four Saratoga starts and six wins in nine at the distance. BY MY STANDARDS get to ride the 30% winning rail after putting up his best speed number in his first race off the bench. His resume says he'll be even better today. CODE OF HONOR is making his third start following a long break. He essentially ran the same in every race of his previous pair of three race cycles. He'll need to be much better than he's been in the first two off the bench to get the checked flag today. IMPROBABLE was “no match” for our top pick when they met in at Oaklawn on April 11th.