The top four horses in the latest Breeders' Cup Classic Rankings – McKinzie, Thunder Snow (IRE), Vino Rosso and Preservationist – lead an outstanding cast of eight horses slated to battle in the $1 million Whitney, which will be televised live this Saturday, Aug. 3, from historic Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN as a part of the “Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In – Presented by America's Best Racing.”
Saturday's show marks the fifth of 11 telecasts in the “Breeders' Cup Challenge: Win and You're In Series – Presented by America's Best Racing” on NBC and NBCSN from some of America's most iconic racetracks. The series leads to the 36th Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., on Nov. 1-2 on NBC and NBCSN. Complete series TV schedule can be accessed here: http://www.breederscup.com/challenge-series
The Whitney winner will earn an automatic berth into the 1 ¼-mile, $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic.
NBC Sports' coverage of the Whitney will be hosted by Ahmed Fareed, who will be joined by analysts Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, reporter Laffit Pincay III and reporter/handicapper Matt Bernier.
Over the years, five Whitney winners have gone on to win the Breeders' Cup Classic. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has saddled three Classic winners, but is seeking his first Whitney winner on Saturday with Mike Pegram, Paul Weitman and Karl Watson's 4-year-old McKinzie, the top rated horse in the Breeders' Cup Classic Rankings, who has been installed as the 7-5 favorite for the 1 1/8-mile race. McKinzie, ridden by Mike Smith, has been first or second in his last five starts. He was a dominant 4 ¾-length winner of the Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 3, and was second in the Metropolitan Handicap at one mile on June 8 at Belmont Park after encountering traffic trouble in the stretch.
“We're excited and really looking forward to running in this race,” said Baffert. “He's trained forwardly since the Met Mile and he's come out of that race really well.”
Godophin Racing's 5-year-old Thunder Snow is the 3-1 co-second choice, along with Preservationist, in the Whitney. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Thunder Snow is the richest active Thoroughbred in racing with $16,511,476 in total earnings. A two-time winner of the Dubai World Cup, Thunder Snow, who finished third in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, was also third in the Met Mile in his last start. He will be ridden on Saturday by Christophe Soumillon.
Vino Rosso, a 4-year-old son of 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Curlin, has been well rested since his successful West Coast trip in the spring when he captured the 1 ¼-mile Gold Cup at Santa Anita on May 27. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Vino Rosso finished second in the Jim Dandy Stakes and fifth in the Travers last year at Saratoga.
Centennial Farm's 6-year-old Preservationist has been nagged by injuries throughout his career, but put it all together in the 1 ¼-mile Suburban at Belmont on July 6, winning by 4 ½ lengths for trainer Jimmy Jerkens. Preservationist, ridden by Junior Alvarado, has won five of eight starts.
China Horse Club International, WinStar Farm and Head of Plains Partners' 5-year-old Yoshida (JPN) has been a versatile runner winning major stakes races on both turf and dirt. He was extremely impressive in winning last summer's Woodward at Saratoga by two lengths, and then finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Saddled by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and ridden by Joel Rosario, Yoshida is seeking his first win this year in three starts, and was most recently sixth in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 15.
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