Horses are not machines, but if they were, Knicks Go would be a computer. Enter the right information – two turns; unhurried lead; nine furlongs, give or take; Brad Cox; Joel Rosario; – wait a couple of minutes, and outcomes the result: Grade 1 win.
So it was at Saratoga on Saturday, when the high-class grey five-year-old wired his field to win the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Whitney Stakes in triumphal ease, clear of his rivals at halfway, clear of his rivals at the line. The winning margin was four and a half lengths, the time was 1:47 and change, the payout was $4.10, but the weights and measures are no more than excelsior wrapped around a remarkable horse.
When he gets his conditions, Knicks Go is as reliable as a little Swiss watch. The question now for trainer Cox is whether the risk of altering those conditions is worth the potential reward. The Whitney is ‘win-and-in’ for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but Knicks Go has never run at ten furlongs. Should Cox twist, or should he stick with the BC Dirt Mile, which Knicks Go won in style last year?
“I’m very proud of the effort by my horse today, he ran huge,” said Cox, who also has Classic contenders Essential Quality and Mandaloun in his barn. “I think with the Classic being at Del Mar, it gives me a little more confidence about trying the mile and a quarter as opposed to, say, Churchill Downs, where there’s a little longer stretch.”
Sounds like he’s talking himself into it. Knicks Go will have one run before the big November showdown: you know the drill, two turns, unhurried lead, nine furlongs. Outcomes the result. Bingo. Oh yes, for the record, Maxfield was runner-up, Silver State filled the third spot. But the Whitney Stakes was all about Knicks Go.
G1 Test Stakes
A glittering Spa undercard was headlined by the $500,000 Grade 1 Test Stakes for three-year-old fillies, in which Bella Sofia stepped up for trainer Rudy Rodriguez and jockey Luis Saez, stretching clear of a quality field to score by four and a quarter lengths from Souper Sensational and Search Results.
It was a big step up; on her previous start Bella Sofia had won an allowance race, and now here she was pocketing her first Grade 1, covering the seven furlongs in 1:21 and a half, paying out at $10.40.
“She’s a pretty nice filly,” said Saez. It certainly looks that way.
G1 Saratoga Derby Invitational
An Irishman, as expected, walked off with the big money in the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational on turf, but not the Irishman predicted, as 21-1 shocker State Of Rest upset the O’Brien applecart, winning for son Joseph while father Aidan’s hot favorite Bolshoi Ballet could manage only fourth.
The ex-French Soldier Rising was beaten a length into second, with Du Jour third. State Of Rest stopped the clock in 1:53 and change for the nine and a half furlongs, as a result, that does not bode well for home interests in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, as there are plenty much, much better where State Of Rest and Bolshoi Ballet come from.
G2 Glens Falls
The $250,000 Grade 2 Glens Falls Stakes, for older distaffers over a mile and a half on turf, was won by odds-on favorite War Like Goddess (Bill Mott/Julien Leparoux), who was three and a quarter lengths too strong for My Sister Nat and Temple City Terror.
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