Godolphin's multiple Group 1 winner Thunder Snow, back-to-back winner of the Group 1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, cleared quarantine and enjoyed his first gallop on the Oklahoma training track on Wednesday morning in preparation for his start in the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney Handicap on Saturday, August 3 at Saratoga Race Course. The Whitney is a 'Win and You're In” race for the Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Thunder Snow, third last out in the Grade 1 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap, will make his first start at Saratoga in the nine-furlong Whitney that boasts a talented list of possible contenders, including McKinzie [Bob Baffert], Mr Buff [John Kimmel], Preservationist [Jimmy Jerkens], Quip [Rodolphe Brisset], Vino Rosso [Todd Pletcher] and Yoshida [Bill Mott].
“Any Group 1 is going to be a big race with good horses, but a Group 1 at Saratoga is a very tough race to win, but I like my horse,” said bin Suroor from Dubai. “I like how he is doing and liked his last piece of work. I think he will run his race.”
The 5-year-old Irish-bred son of Helmet arrived at Saratoga on Monday and had a light gallop over the Oklahoma training track with exercise rider Walter Lynch aboard and under the supervision of Tommy Burns, traveling assistant for bin Suroor.
“We just intended to stretch his legs this morning to get him acclimated. He looked good and did it well,” said Burns.
Multiple graded stakes-placed in North America, Thunder Snow is on target to make his fifth graded stakes start in the Whitney. In addition to his third in the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap on June 8 at Belmont Park, Thunder Snow's additional starts on the continent include a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November; a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in September at Belmont; and a troubled effort in the 2017 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby where he was pulled up by jockey Christophe Soumillon.
Burns said Thunder Snow, the world's richest active racehorse with purse earnings of $16,511,476, has traveled well and should appreciate the additional furlong offered in the Whitney.
“He's traveled all around the world and he's taken to it,” said Burns. “There's never been any problems on that side. Overall, his form has never backed up between starts when he's gotten enough spacing between them. He's come out of the Met Mile very well and we're happy with him. It was definitely a bit short [Met Mile], we think he might be best at 10 furlongs, but he was still running at the end and we hope that race has set him up for the Whitney.”
In addition to the Whitney, Thunder Snow is possible for both the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward at 1 1/8 miles on August 31 at the Spa and also the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, contested at 1 1/4 miles, which offers an automatic entry and a fees-paid trip to the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic.
Burns confirmed Thunder Snow would be reunited with regular rider Christophe Soumillon for the Whitney.
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