Recent Whitney Winners Finding B.C. Classic Success

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More good news for connections of Moreno and his fans: In recent years, winners of the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) have enjoyed more Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) success than the winners of any other race conducted after June 1.

Southern Equine Stable's Moreno ensured himself a spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic with his victory in the $1.5 million Whitney at Saratoga Race Course, one of two Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" races conducted Aug. 2. As a 3-year-old, Moreno finished off the board in last year's Classic.

Since 2006 three Whitney winners have gone on to win the Breeders' Cup Classic in Invasor (2006), Blame (2010), and Fort Larned (2012). Since 2006, no other race conducted after June 1 on the calendar has had as many of its winners go on to win the Classic in the same year. In fact, both of the past two Whitney winners to start in the Breeders' Cup Classic won the race: Blame and Fort Larned. Last year's Whitney winner Cross Traffic and 2010 winner Tizway didn't start in the Classic.

Should Moreno start in this year's Classic, he could fly just a bit under the radar, which also would match the recent history of Whitney-Breeders' Cup Classic winners. None of the three were favored in the Classic with Fort Larned winning at 9-1, Blame at 5-1, and Invasor at 6-1.


Moreno in the Whitney Handicap.
Photo by Cogianese Photos
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The question currently being considered by Moreno's connections is where to next point the early-running gelded son of 2004 Classic winner Ghostzapper. In terms of starts between the Whitney and the Classic, a look at the recent horses to complete the double would suggest less is more. Fort Larned and Blame both started only once between their Whitney and Classic victories. Blame finished second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Park and Fort Larned finished third in that same race. Invasor did not start at all between his Aug. 5 Whitney victory and his Nov. 4 Classic win at Churchill Downs.

Moreno's connections are considering the $600,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 30 at Saratoga or the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Sept. 27 at Belmont Park. Like the Whitney, the Woodward is contested at 1 1/8 miles, while the Jockey Club Gold Cup is contested at 1 1/4 miles, the same distance as the Breeders' Cup Classic. Last year Moreno lost the 1 1/4-mile Travers Stakes (gr. I) by a nose to eventual champion Will Take Charge.

"We'll look at the Woodward, or maybe give him a break and point to the Jockey Club Gold Cup," said Moreno's trainer Eric Guillot. "It's a million-dollar race at 1 1/4 miles; he ran huge in the Suburban. From the 11 hole those fractions were very fast. I think 1 1/4 miles is his best distance."

In the Whitney, Moreno and jockey Junior Alvarado enjoyed a clear lead at each point of call. Perhaps rival riders are aware that racing close to Moreno early has its perils. Starting with his maiden win last year, Moreno has led at the half-mile call in eight of his 11 starts. The only horse to ever win a race after being within two lengths of Moreno when he's leading through a half-mile is Palace Malice in last year's Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II).

Many horses who race close to Moreno early pay the price, the latest being a last-place Whitney finish by 2012 Travers winner Golden Ticket after he raced a length behind Moreno early in Saturday's race. In the eight races examined where Moreno was leading through a half-mile, the average finish of the nine horses who have been less than two lengths behind Moreno at that point is 5.5.

Without considering how fast or slow the track was playing, it should be noted that Moreno completed the first half-mile of this year's Whitney in :47.5 seconds, which is the third slowest in the past ten editions. As a 3-year-old, Moreno led the Breeders' Cup Classic last year through a half-mile in :46.36 before fading to 10th.

In the other Breeders' Cup Challenge race Aug. 2, Iotapa punched her ticket to the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) with a victory in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. I) at Del Mar. That victory on Polytrack follows Iotapa's 10 1/4-length score June 14 in the Vanity Stakes (gr. I) on the dirt at Santa Anita Park.


Automatic bids earned through challenge wins

Classic

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Bayern (KY), by Offlee Wild, William Hill Haskell Invitational S. (gr. I), Monmouth Park

Majestic Harbor (KY), by Rockport Harbor, The Gold Cup at Santa Anita S. (gr. I), Santa Anita Park

Moonshine Mullin (KY), by Albert the Great, Stephen Foster H. (gr. I), Churchill Downs

Moreno (KY), Ghostzapper, Whitney H. (gr. I), Saratoga Race Course

 

Dirt Mile

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Bronzo (CHI), by Fusaichi Pegasus, Copa de Oro Vinas de Chile (Chi-II), Club Hipico de Santiago
Palace Malice (KY), by Curlin, Metropolitan H., Belmont Park

 

Distaff

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Close Hatches (KY), by First Defence, Ogden Phipps S. (gr. I), Belmont Park

Iotapa (KY), by Afleet Alex, Clement L. Hirsch S. (gr. I), Del Mar

Valiant Emilia (PER), by Pegasus Wind, Clasico Cesar del Rio Suito (Per-III), Hipodromo de Monterrico


Filly & Mare Turf

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Beach Beauty (SAF), by Dynasty, Maine Chance Farms Paddock S. (SAf-I), Kenilworth

Minorette (KY), by Smart Strike, Belmont Oaks Invitational S. (gr. IT), Belmont Park

 

Mile

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Capetown Noir (SAF), by Western Winter, L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (SAf-I), Kenilworth

Obviously (IRE), by Choisir, Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT), Santa Anita Park

Sacred Falls (NZ), by O’Reilly, The Star Doncaster Mile (Aus-I), Kenilworth


Turf

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Bal a Bali (BRZ), by Put It Back, Gran Premio Brasil (Brz-I), Hipodromo da Gavea

Gold Ship (JPN), by Stay Gold, Takarazuka Kinen (Jpn-I), Hanshin Racecourse

It’s a Dundeel (NZ), by High Chaparral, Longines Queen Elizabeth S. (Aus-I), Randwick

Main Sequence (KY), by Aldebaran, United Nations Stakes (gr. IT), Monmouth Park

Sir Winsalot (ARG), by Lasting Approval, Gran Premio 25 de Mayo (Arg-I), San Isidro

Taghrooda (GB), by Sea The Stars, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes sponsored by QIPCO (Eng-I), Ascot


Turf Sprint

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Big Macher (CA), Beau Genius, Bing Crosby S. (gr. I), Del Mar

Lankan Rupee (AUS), by Redoute’s Choice, Darley T. J. Smith S. (Aus-I), Randwick

Automatic bids by state or country bred
Kentucky 9
New Zealand 2
South Africa 2
Argentina  1
Australia 1
Brazil 1
Chile  1
California 1
England 1
Ireland 1
Japan 1
Peru 1

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