2021 Whitney Stakes: Full Field Breakdown For Saturday’s Big Race At Saratoga

Written By Dave Bontempo on August 5, 2021

This is excellence personified. Saratoga Race Course both salutes tradition and embraces a new thoroughbred dynamic with back-to-back $1 million races on Saturday afternoon. The well-known Grade I Whitney Stakes produces its 94th running at 1 1/8 miles on dirt and is a win-and-you’re-in proposition to the Nov. 6 Breeders Cup Classic for this field of five. When the starting gate opens, one horse could be a strong favorite in the Whitney Stakes odds.

Post time for the Whitney Stakes is 5:48p ET. Bettors can access the action via the TVG app.

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Whitney Stakes Odds & Betting Preview

Multi-stakes winner Maxfield and Knicks Go are the early favorites in a race that includes Silver State and By My Standards, both of whom beat Knicks Go in the Metropolitan Handicap in June. Swiss Skydiver, the 2020 Preakness winner, tries to become the first filly to capture this race since Personal Ensign in 1988 and rounds out a talented field.

1. By My Standards (10-1) – Jockey: Gabriel Saez, Trainer: Bret Calhoun

Has two Grade II victories at this distance, but has been unable to get over the top in Grade I races. Obtained a clear second but was outrun by victorious Improbable in the 2020 Whitney. Added a good second in the Metropolitan Handicap, storming past a tired Knicks Go in the race won by Silver State. Runs hard each time out but hasn’t shown he can beat these. Late runner.

2. Silver State (4-1) – Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr, Trainer: Steve Asmussen

What’s not to like? Six-for-six, at distances of 7 furlongs, 1 mile, 1 1/6 miels and 1 1/8 miles. Versatile.
Enjoyed a dream trip in the Metropolitan Handicap. He settled back on the rail, let Mischievious Alex do the heavy lifting in peppering Knicks Go and then he cut the corner en route to capturing the 1-mile race. In the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn Handicap, he came from next-to-last to just get up for victory.

The question here is whether the wait-and-pounce strategy will deliver another victory. The distance is longer and Knicks Go had a monstrous rebound in his last race.
Santana has been magic with Silver State, providing ground-saving trips and well-timed moves from the back of the pack. Will he get a pace to run at?

3. Swiss Skydiver (6-1) – Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Trainer: Kenny McPeek

Fans will never forget that riveting duel and Preakness triumph over Authentic in the second-fastest Preakness ever last year. Swiss Skydiver has registered two starts this year, first shipping to the West Coast to capture the Grade 1 Beholder Mile on March 13 at Santa Anita. That was followed by a distant third to Letruska and dual champion Monomoy Girl in the Grade I Apple Blossom on April 17 at Oaklawn Park. No excuses that day. She was alongside both of them at the top of the stretch but had no answer. Will she be a speed factor to weaken Knicks Go?

4. Knicks Go (6-5) – Jockey: Joel Rosario, Trainer: Brad Cox

Wow, that was a 113 Beyer in his last race, a 10 1/4-length victory in the Cornhusker Stakes at Prairie Meadows in July. The 1 1/8 mile, two-turn distance was more to his liking than the one-turn, one-mile Metropolitan Handicap, where he was embroiled in a contentious pace and finished fourth. In the Cornhusker, he broke clear and was able to relax in the second quarter. He served notice about what is possible if he gets loose on the lead. Major contender. Will anyone run with him early? Will his pedigree force others to be used earlier than normal?

5. Maxfield (8-5) – Jockey: Jose Ortiz, Trainer: Brendan Walsh

Comes off an impressive stalking victory in the Stephen Foster Stakes. Bided his time on a sharp pace of 1:10.70 for six furlongs and made the definitive move from sixth place the way 2-5 shots should. He blew past the field and won in a hand-ride. Maxfield produced a 103 Beyer that could have been higher had Ortiz wanted to press the issue. May want to make sure Knicks Go doesn’t run off and hide. Might need to be a little closer to the pace against a better field, but the explosive burst was uplifting to those who bet him. Short priced for good reason.

Whitney Stakes Odds: Where Is The Betting Value?

Can’t spread the bread here. A heavy win bet or straight exacta may be the only money-making avenue.

Which Knicks Go do we see? The Breeders’ Cup winner who set a Keeneland record of 1:33.85 last November? Or the horse surprised in the Metropolitan?

Swiss Skydiver should help set up the race for Maxfield, but the question is whether he can then run Knicks Go down.

Silver State is a live longshot in Whitney Stakes odds and would be the key to a price either on the win or exacta line. For Swiss Skydiver and By My Standards, this would be asking a lot.

Whitney Stakes Part of Loaded Saratoga Saturday Program

It is directly preceded by The Saratoga Derby Invitational, the middle leg of a new Triple Crown turf circuit. Known as the NYRA Turf Trinity Series, it was launched in 2019 and features three turf races with the same distances as the dirt-racing Triple Crown. This 1 3/16-mile test is the second leg, the equivalent of the Preakness Stakes, and has an 11-horse field. Post time is 5:10 p.m.

A victory on Saturday could set Bolshoi Ballet up to become the first horse to capture all three legs of the Turf Triple Crown series that was inaugurated in 2019. The series concludes September 18 at Belmont with the 12-furlong $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational, which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Bolshoi Ballet won the opening leg, the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Derby in July.

The $1 million dollar races caps a lucrative card which includes:

  • The $500,000 Longines Test for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs over the main track
  • The Grade II $250,000 Glens Falls for older fillies and mares, 1 1/2 miles over the inner turf
  • The $120,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure for 4-year-olds and upward over the Mellon turf
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Written by
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

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