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Jul 25, 2003

ATC Lead

By: Joe Girardi


            With the first weekend almost in the books let us look ahead to the second weekend

of the Saratoga meeting. On August 2nd, Saratoga will host the Grade I Whitney Stakes. This race

is highly anticipated because it is supposed to attract some of the top handicap horses in the country.

            VOLPONI, MEDAGLIA D’ORO, and MILWAUKEE BREW are just three of the horses that are

expected to run. With MINESHAFT probably waiting until the Woodward for his next start VOLPONI,

last year’s Breeders Cup Classic winner was probably not going to run in the Whitney if MINESHAFT

was. The two met up recently in the Suburban handicap on July 5th at Belmont Park. MINESHAFT easily

defeated VOLPONI, never really being asked for run by jockey Robby Albarado. With that win he

solidified himself as the top handicap horse in the country until someone proves otherwise. In three

starts this year VOLPONI had finished second all three times. However, in the Whitney he will get back

to a true two turn race as opposed to the one-turn route races at Belmont, except for the Suburban which

started on the turn. VOLPONI is better suited to the two turns as evidenced by his huge win in the

Breeders Cup Classic. He will be one of the favorites come August 2nd.

            MEDAGLIA D’ORO, who has not raced since April 5th when he won the Oaklawn Park

handicap at 1-9 is also expected for the Whitney. Two for two this year since his second place finish

in the Breeders’ Cup Classic behind VOLPONI, MEDAGLIA D’ORO looks to have improved on his

three year old year. Trained by Bobby Frankel, it would almost be a shock if he didn’t win this race

considering he wins almost every Grade I in North America. His tactical speed and his fondness for the

Saratoga main track (won both Jim Dandy and Travers in 2002) makes him the one to beat if he makes

the race on August 2nd.

            Another leading contender for the Whitney handicap is yet another Bobby Frankel trained runner,

MILWAUKEE BREW. Interesting enough just like the other two, MILWAUKEE BREW also competed

in the Breeders’ Classic, he finished third behind VOLPONI and MEDAGLIA D’ORO. Always known

as a come from behind horse MILWAUKEE BREW has changed his tactics with the addition of blinkers.

He finished second in his first start of the year behind CONGAREE in the San Antonio handicap and

then followed that up with a head victory over CONGAREE in the Santa Anita handicap. The addition

of blinkers has helped keep MILWAUKEE BREW closer to the pace and he still has that strong late kick.

If both Frankel horses do run in the Whitney and race uncoupled you will definitely get an overlay on

MILWAUKEE BREW.

            Another interesting side note is that the connections of AZERI still have not ruled out the

possibility of running their champion mare in the Whitney but it is not likely.

            If that wasn’t enough for the weekend, the next day is the Jim Dandy stakes. This race is expected

to see EMPIRE MAKER make his return to the races after winning the Belmont Stakes back in early

June. With the Haskell being run on the same day at Monmouth Park many of the top three year olds

will run there instead. The purse of the Haskell stakes is double that of the Jim Dandy making the

Haskell more appealing to the connections of those three year olds. FUNNY CIDE, who fell short

of the Triple Crown is expected for the Haskell along with PEACE RULES (Bobby Frankel trainee) and

SKY MESA, who recently returned to finish third in the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont. If all goes well we

might see a stirring renewal of the Travers. Hopefully, the EMPIRE MAKER/FUNNY CIDE rivalry can

continue on in the Midsummer Derby.

           

            In addition to some of the stats we provided last week about the trainers and jockeys we have

some profitable trainer/jockey combos courtesy of the Daily Racing Form’s Saratoga Players Guide.

            At Saratoga Gary Contessa had a good meeting with nine winners for an average win payoff of

$14.74. However, when he hooked up with Pay Day he went 2 for 4 with an average win payoff of $17.70.

Richard Migliore also hooked up with Gary Contessa for 2 wins out of four mounts and his average win

payoff was even better at $23.30.

            Another trainer to watch during this meeting is Nick Zito. He had 10 wins from 75 starts with an

average win payoff of $15.30. His main go to riders were Victor Carrero, who was an apprentice last year,

and Javier Castellano. Carrero won three races for Zito for 30 mounts but had a nice average win payoff

of $17.73. Castellano, on the other hand had a better winning percentage with 4 wins from 23 starts and

a slightly lower average win payoff of $17.55. Carrero, however, has been riding this summer at Monmouth

so we don’t expect to see him up at the Spa that much.

            Next week we will focus the first week of both Saratoga and Del Mar. Good Luck!

           

           



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