Saratoga weekend stakes previews (August 5-6)

Cody’s Wish wins the 2022 Forego at Saratoga (Photo by Susie Raisher)

By Jarrod Horak

Whitney weekend is almost here and all eyes are on Cody’s Wish. Bill Mott’s 5-year-old horse won his last six stakes starts including Grade 1 triumphs in the Forego, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, Churchill Downs Stakes, and Met Mile. The Whitney is a Win & You’re In for the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

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Grade 3 Troy – August 5 – Race 6 – 5 1/2 furlongs turf

The Whitney Day stakes action kicks off with the Troy and Caravel is the deserving favorite. The 15-for-23 mare captured her last five turf sprint stakes starts. Her early-pressing versatility always makes her dangerous in these abbreviated turf sprints and she might make short work of this group. She faces males in this spot but that is a non-issue. She beat the boys in the BC Turf Sprint (G1), Shakertown (G2), and Jaipur (G1). 

Nobals is fleet early for Larry Rivelli. He is 8-for-15 overall and probably needs the lead to succeed. He wired the field in a turf sprint stakes race at Horseshoe Indianapolis last time. 

Thin White Duke is worth considering underneath. He usually runs his race from off the pace at this course and distance. He finished a close third as a 30-1 outsider in this race last summer. 

The 8-horse field also includes Ikigai, Cogburn, Grooms All Bizness, Mister Mmmmm, and Remuda.    

Lure Stakes – August 5 – Race 7 – 1 1/16 miles inner turf

This race is for 4-year-olds and up which have not won a graded stakes this year. Dakota Gold is the favorite and he exits a New York-bred stakes win on the turf course at Belmont. Irad Ortiz Jr. stays put and he does his best work in the stretch. 

Portfolio Company is on top of his game for Chad Brown. He exits back-to-back turf routes wins at Belmont and he is 2-for-3 with a runner-up finish at Saratoga. This is a very good opportunity for him to pick up his first stakes win. 

Smokin’ T finished a close second as the even money favorite in a turf route stakes race at Monmouth last time. Shug McGaughey’s colt will probably stalk the pace under his winning rider John Velazquez. 

Speaking Scout competed in the graded ranks in his last six starts. He won the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby late last year and exits a show finish in the Monmouth (G3). Flavien Prat hops aboard Graham Motion’s late running gelding. 

Early runner Ocean Atlantique, overseas shipper Chazzesmee, Tiz the Bomb, speedy Maryland invader Doctor Davis, and Mid Day Range complete the 9-horse field. 

Grade 1 Test – August 5 – Race 8 – 7 furlongs dirt 

Pretty Mischievous cuts back in distance again and will try to work out a trip from the inside post in this extended sprint. She always finishes in the top three and has been solid since adding blinkers. Following the equipment change, she won a pair of Grade 1 races, the Kentucky Oaks and Acorn. She is 2-for-2 in dirt sprints. 

Dorth Vader moved to the George Weaver barn and almost beat Pretty Mischievous in the Acorn (G1) at 1 1/16 miles last time. This shorter distance probably helps her cause. She won a Florida-bred stakes race at seven furlongs last year and ended 2022 with a stakes score in the Sandpiper at six panels. She easily captured the Davona Dale (G2) as a 46-1 outsider on March 4, and that race was a one-turn mile. She drew well with two speed horses to her outside, and she figures to work out a comfortable stalking trip under John Velazquez. 

Munnys Gold is fast early for Todd Pletcher. She ran off the screen in her first three career starts including a 17 length tally at seven panels. She moved into the graded ranks and missed by a head on May 5, and set the pace and weakened to fourth in the Acorn on June 9. This is a good distance for her and she should be all over the pace under Irad Ortiz Jr.  

Maple Leaf Mel, a New York-bred filly with a 5-for-5 record, should be all over the pace from the outside post. This is her longest and toughest test to date, and she must avoid a speed duel with Munnys Gold. She took down Grade 3 company in her last two wins and has never been headed. 

California invader Clearly Unhinged, Tappin Josie, Jersey Pearl, and Interpolate round out the field. 

Pretty Mischievous is the favorite and she would appreciate it if the outside two runners hook up from the get-go. Dorth Vader might get the run of the race and should offer value. 

Grade 1 Saratoga Derby – August 5 – Race 9 – 1 3/16 miles turf

Far Bridge is the 2-1 morning line favorite for Todd Pletcher. He is 3-for-5 with a pair of runner-up finishes, and he can really kick it in high gear in the lane. He won a fast renewal of the Grade 1 Belmont Derby on July 8 and might make it two straight under Jose Ortiz. 

Mondego set the pace and was beaten a length in the Belmont Derby. He might try to steal this from the inside post under Joel Rosario. 

Chad Brown has a good shot in here with Program Trading. He captured both of his turf routes and his tactical speed should serve him well. Flavien Prat got acquainted with him last time and he has plenty of upside. 

Aspen Grove (IRE) is a filly taking on the boys. She scratched out of Friday’s Saratoga Oaks in favor of this spot. She shipped to this country and won the Belmont Oaks (G1) last time, and she looked good rallying in that slow early/fast late event. The daughter of Justify is 12-1 on the line. 

Overseas shipper The Franchise (IRE), dual Churchill Downs stakes hero Webslinger, Battle of Normandy, Lion of War (GB), and recent maiden winner Truly Quality complete the 9-horse field. 

Grade 1 Whitney – August 5 – Race 10 – 1 1/8 miles dirt

Cody’s Wish headlines this $1 million showcase event and the main hurdle for him is the added real estate. He has done the bulk of his damage in extended sprints at seven panels and a one-turn mile. The multiple Grade 1 winner captured his last six starts including the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile around two turns last fall, and exits a smart score in the Met Mile. He has already beaten his main rivals in this race and should be a handful at low odds. 

Zandon is 2-for-11 overall and he has banked more than $1.7 million. His biggest career win was in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at 1 1/8 miles in 2022. He loves picking up minor awards in the stakes ranks and figures to finish somewhere in the trifecta once again. A ground saving closing trip under Joel Rosario is expected. 

Charge It can be brilliant at times. His Dwyer (G3) romp last year was a thing of beauty, and he got loose and cruised home in the Grade 2 Suburban at mile and a quarter last time. He had foot issues in the past and cannot be trusted to string together strong performances. He should make his presence felt from the outset. 

White Abarrio has yet to win a race away from Gulfstream Park. He is 5-for-6 at that venue and 0-for-7 everywhere else. He moved to the Rick Dutrow barn and landed the show from the outside post in the Met Mile last time. 

Last Samurai is not as extreme as White Abarrio in the horse for course category, but he clearly elevates his game at Oaklawn Park. He is 1-for-11 at a mile and an eighth. 

Giant Game wired the field in his last two dirt routes. He was game in the Cornhusker (G3) last time and should impact the pace under Luis Saez. 

Cody’s Wish looks hard to handle in this spot. Zandon and Charge It are probably his main rivals. 

Grade 3 Adirondack – August 6 – Race 8 – 6 1/2 furlongs dirt

Ten promising juvenile fillies try to make the grade in Sunday’s feature and Here U Come Again is the favorite for Brad Cox. She pressed from an outer post and pulled clear in her Ellis Park debut at five panels. The daughter of Liam’s Map will probably have to work out a different trip this time from post 3. 

Becky’s Joker breaks from the outside post. She stalked and scored from post 2 at 21-1 odds in the local Schuylerville (G3) on opening day, and that was her career debut. She broke last in that race and will need a more alert beginning in her second career start. 

Copper Em was strong from the outside post in a wire-to-wire victory in her career debut at Ellis Park. She was 15-1 last time for Steve Asmussen and should be one of the favorites in this spot. 

The 10-horse field is completed by Cara’s Time, Magic Cross, Debutante winner Brightwork, Princess Celina, Schuylerville runner-up Saratoga Secret, Princess Indy, and Streaming Now. 

Are you interested in more Saratoga content? Check out the links below:

Saratoga week 1 stakes recaps

Saratoga week 2 stakes recaps

Saratoga week 3 stakes recaps