GLENS FALLS — Bettors looking at Saturday’s Whitney are presented with so many facts and statistics that they start to blur.
There is one truth that Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable are hoping is enough to win the Grade I, $1 million stake: Curlin offspring improve as they get older. Their 4-year-old Vino Rosso has shown that this year and sits at a tempting 6-1 on the morning line for the 1⅛-mile race.
After winning the Wood Memorial last year, Vino Rosso only hit the board once in his next four races — a third in the Jim Dandy here at Saratoga. This year, however, he has a win in the Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct, a fourth in the Grade I Carter — which may have been too short for him at 7 furlongs — and a breakout three-quarter-length win in the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup on May 27 at Santa Anita.
He delivered a 48.88-second 4-furlong work on July 27, ninth-fastest of 81 at the distance, and with racing luck it could mean the fourth Whitney win for trainer Todd Pletcher and fifth for jockey John Velazquez.
“I think he’s a much better 4-year-old than he was a 3-year-old,” Pletcher said. “He’s much more consistent in the mornings in training, and I thought his Gold Cup was a really big race. I think the 9-furlong distance is ideal for him if there’s an honest pace.”
Another horse returning to a distance that is better suited to him is two-time Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow. The 5-year-old is coming off a third in the 1-mile Metropolitan Handicap. He put in a 7-furlong work Sunday to prepare.
“He’s full of energy, he’s carrying great weight,” said Jimmy Bell, president of owner Godolphin. “A mile and a quarter is right up his alley, but I think he’ll be very competitive going a mile and an eighth.”
Thunder Snow is the richest thoroughbred in training, having earned $16.5 million in 24 career starts, but has never won in North America.
McKinzie is the 7-5 morning-line favorite coming off a trouble-filled second in the Metropolitan. Very consistent, he has a win in the Grade II Alysheba on May 3 at Churchill Downs.
The horse in the field with the most momentum is 6-year-old Preservationist, who has won his last three races. Most recently he cruised to a 4 ½-length win in the Grade II Suburban on July 6 at Belmont.
Yoshida is a Grade I winner on turf and dirt, including the 2018 Woodward at Saratoga, but only has three sixth-place finishes this year.
Rounding out the field are Monongahela, Forewarned and Imperative.