Silver State will struggle to continue winning streak at Whitney
SARATOGA SPRINGS – As equipment changes before the race, it would be a new one.
Winchell Thoroughbreds blood advisor David Fiske joked with trainer Steve Asmussen that they were tying a horseshoe to Silver State’s tail ahead of Saturday’s $ 1 million Whitney.
It’s an echo of 2017, when Winchell’s owned Gun Runner carried a little extra weight in the form of a shoe that knocked down another horse just before the second turn and improbably got entangled in Gun’s tail. Runner. All Gun Runner did from there was win the Whitney by 5 1/4 lengths en route to horse of the year.
Silver State, the 4-1 third pick on the morning line, could use any luck as he brings in a six-game winning streak in the mile and an eighth Whitney, but faces a very tough – so small – field which includes four rivals.
This includes 6-5 favorites Knicks Go, the winner of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile which kicked off 2021 with a $ 3 million Pegasus World Cup victory; 8-5 Maxfield, whose only career loss was two lengths in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap; the champion filly Swiss Skydiver, who already beat cocks in last year’s Preakness; and the multiple ranked winner By My Standards, who finished second to Improbable in Whitney last year.
Silver State hasn’t done anything wrong since October, weaving its way through allocation conditions and two unranked stakes at Oaklawn Park before a Grade II Oaklawn Handicap victory and an outstanding performance by winning the Grade I Met Mile around one lap on Belmont Stakes Day June 5, one step ahead of By My Standards and 3 1/4 lengths ahead of Knicks Go in fourth.
“We are talking about a horse that has won six in a row,” Asmussen said. “Scott [assistant trainer Scott Blasi] said: ‘He will give you a lot of confidence.’
“I said, ‘The only one more confident than me or you is him.’ It was he who won six in a row. The Whitney, I think, will establish the leader of the division. Nothing but respect for who’s in it, but we’re very lucky to have a horse as good as Silver State.
Knicks Go will break away from post # 4 and should be up front during the first divisions.
Silver State’s style has to come from rhythm, and Asmussen has said he hopes jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. will be able to keep a short gap between him and Knicks Go at the start of the Whitney.
“The problem is whether he can stay comfortable and in contact around the first corner on Saturday,” said Asmussen.
The Whitney is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
With the victory at the Met Mile, Silver State, which has run more than a mile in just five of 11 career starts, already has access to the BC Dirt Mile.
“It’s sort of in the middle of the freeway right now,” Fiske said. “We haven’t really explored a mile and a quarter [BC Classic distance], but we’ll run it on Saturday.
“You’re going to have to really win this one. It is a small field but of quality.
If the Silver State camp is on the middle of the freeway, the connections for Knicks Go have chosen their lane, and it’s two-lap races like the Whitney. This was doubly confirmed when Knicks Go finished fourth in the Met Mile and then blew up the 10 1/4 length field in the Grade III Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows, albeit against a lower field than he will see in the Whitney. .
“We were really high on this horse entering the Met Mile; we used the Cornhusker just to remind us that these are the two corners he needs, and he showed us that was the case in his last race, ”said coach Brad Cox.
” He is very fast. It’s a mile and an eighth, and it’s a demanding track. He has to move there. But I think if he does it his way, he’ll be a tough horse.
“If you look back, in the Breeders’ Cup [Dirt] Mile, there was a horse trying to go with him. There was a horse that tried to accompany him into the Pegasus. At the last start there was a horse that tried to accompany him. They just can’t keep up. It’s a gift he has, and [jockey] Joel [Rosario] was able to let him run on his own, but very quickly, and he is able to continue.
Maxfield is the least raced of the Whitney horses with just eight career starts.
In 2021, outside of the Santa Anita Handicap, he won three stakes ranked by open length, most recently the Grade II Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs.
“It’s a tough race,” said coach Brendan Walsh. “There are some very, very good horses in there. It will be a huge test for him and for everyone.
Besides By My Standards, Swiss Skydiver is the only other horse in the Whitney area with a race on the track. She won a Grade I Alabama at a mile and a quarter last year.
Coach Kenny McPeek intended to race her in the Shuvee on July 25, but his barn was then in quarantine due to a positive test for Equine Herpesvirus-1 on a horse trained by Jorge Abreu.
McPeek wants to use the Whitney as a replacement springboard for the Personal Ensign on August 28, but also plans to stay against the men and compete in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 4 if Swiss Skydiver wins the Whitney.
“Honestly, I haven’t really thought about the filly or the foal [races]”McPeek said.” She’s doing well and it’s really the only race she’s eligible for. Certainly in a five-horse-to-million-dollar field at a racetrack she’s conquered and she’s doing it. well, and there she is, [so] We’ll see what happens. We have always been a game. ”
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