Magic Man’s Race of the Week: The Whitney Handicap

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And so it begins for the Magic Man as I pen my first preview column for with my Race of the Week!

At Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York, the Whitney Handicap is for older horses. The division ceded a few months ago to Arrogate has now had it opened up just a bit with his stunning loss in the San Diego two weekends ago at Delmar.

Gun Runner is the overwhelming favorite coming into this edition of the Whitney after his dominant win in the Stephen Foster in June at Churchill Downs. He has a chance to close a significant gap on Arrogate if he repeats Stephen Foster effort. However, the field assembled at Saratoga has quality to it, and this is not a walk over for Gun Runner.

Below is my preview of the Whitney Handicap with analysis and selections.

RACE 9 Whitney S. (Grade I) POST TIME – 5:46 PM




Exacta, Trifecta (.50), Super (.10), Pick 3 Races (9-11), Double Wagers

Saratoga STAKES

Purse $1,200,000. For Three Year Olds And Upward. One And One Eighth Miles.

P# PP Horse  Virtual
A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1 War Story (KY) [ ] 5/G L J Castellano 121 J Navarro 6/1
2 2 Breaking Lucky (ON) [ ] 5/H L L Contreras 117 R Baker 8/1
3 3 Cautious Giant (KY) [ ] 6/G L J A Bracho 117 A T Quartarolo 30/1
4 4 Tu Brutus (CHI) [ ] 5/H L I Ortiz, Jr. 117 G C Contessa 8/1
5 5 Keen Ice (KY) [ ] 5/H L J L Ortiz 121 T A Pletcher 3/1
6 6 Gun Runner (KY) [ ] 4/C L F Geroux 124 S M Asmussen 4/5
7 7 Discreet Lover (FL) [ ] 4/C L M Franco 117 U St. Lewis 25/1

Owners: 1 – Loooch Racing Stables, Inc., Ellis, Glenn K. and Imaginary Stables; 2 – Gunpowder Farms LLC, West Point Thoroughbreds et al.; 3 -Loooch Racing Stables, Inc. and Imaginary Stables; 4 – Winning Move Stable, Green, Saltor Thoroughbred Stables, Pines Stables et al.; 5 – Donegal Racing and Calumet Farm; 6 – Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm; 7 – St. Lewis, Uriah

Breeders: 1 – Jack Swain III; 2 – Christine Hayden; 3 – Grousemont Farm; 4 – Haras Paso Nevado; 5 – Glencrest Farm; 6 – Besilu Stables, LLC; 7 – Woodford Thoroughbreds

Pedigrees (Sire – Dam, by Dam Sire): 1 – Northern Afleet – Belle Watling , by Pulpit ; 2 – Lookin At Lucky – Shooting Party , by Sky Classic ; 3 – Giant’s Causeway – Dangerous Diva , by Deputy Minister ; 4 – Scat Daddy – Bresca (CHI) , by Seeker’s Reward ; 5 – Curlin – Medomak , by Awesome Again ; 6 -Candy Ride (ARG) – Quiet Giant , by Giant’s Causeway ; 7 – Repent – Discreet Chat , by Discreet Cat ;  Sire of Gun Runner standing at Lane’s End


1-War Story probably will be either on or near the lead when the gates open and his trainer already owns a Graded win over this course as he took the Vandebilt Handicap last week.This guy won his most recent out in the Brooklyn and again he is a pace factor but my question is if he is good enough to hold off the late charge of this group. Some mixed signals for me from him.

2-Breaking Lucky was a distant 3rd to Gun Runner back in the Stephen Foster while getting seven pounds. He carries the same weight break in here and, although he is an honest and consistent horse, there is nothing to suggest any sort of form reversal. A reluctant throw out.

3-Cautious Giant-there is nothing in this guys form that even remotely suggests that he can make any sort of impact so this is a very easy throw out in this one

4-Tu Brutus is most likely to make the pace in here. He put together two big figures in his first two starts in America. He was a disappointing third in the Brooklyn in his last out but maybe he can move forward. I do think he merits a long look considering his pace flow advantage and the short field.

5-Keen Ice is intriguing. If you follow my Twitter page @GeorgePepis, I was all over this guy in his win in the Suburban. It was a very stylish effort considering it was his first out since Dubai World Cup night. Assessing his chances in this outing, you have to respect him but one big flaw for me is that he does not pair up strong races when you look deeper into his form cycle. I am nowhere near as bullish on him as I was in the Suburban.

6-Gun Runner is the second best horse in the handicap division with a chance to close the gap further on Arrogate if he wins here impressively. I loved his win in the Stephen Foster and really think he can he can make an argument for the top spot if his form holds. He still in the big picture has to beat Arrogate head-to-head, and that chance probably comes in the Breeders Cup Classic at Delmar later this fall. He will be extremely tough to beat in the Whitney with a good trip.

7-Discreet Lover, another one to toss out, just looks too slow for these types. He has not seen the class he will see in here so again do not bother using him.

My Selections

1-Gun Runner figures to be very very tough as he will rate off what is expected to be a solid pace flow. Should win this and continue to progress forward.

2-Tu Brutus could be the brave one in this field. As good as his rider Irad Ortiz has been, I like him for the exotics.

3-War Story is another price type who i believe will be fighting for the gimmicks. His running style suggests that he can factor big here. Not going to win but he can be in the money.

I am so much looking forward to penning many more columns for this great new site. As i leave you for now, I want to wish Ken Trahan, Jude Young, Lenny Vangilder and all of those associated with CCS the very best. We have a great group of writers and we promise to give you sports lovers what you deserve – great coverage and objective analysis. So for the first of many times in this space, I leave you with this. May your winners be plentiful and your wallets be fat.

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George Pepis

Horse Racing Analyst

George Pepis provides racing analysis during each Fair Grounds racing season. He also shares commentary and selections for major stakes events and prep races around the country. In the past, George has hosted sports talk programming on WGSO 990am in New Orleans. He has served as both play-by-play and color analyst on Louisiana high school football radio and internet broadcasts.

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