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Palace Malice headlines Whitney Invitational at Saratoga for Breeders’ Cup Classic berth on NBC on Saturday

July 31, 2014     E-mail this page to a friend!

Dogwood Stables’ sensational 4-year-old Palace Malice headlines a star-studded field of nine horses bidding for an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the $1.5 million Whitney Invitational from historic Saratoga Race Track on Saturday for the live NBC broadcast of the “Summer at Saratoga: Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series” program that airs at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time (3:00 p.m. Mountain Time).

The Whitney broadcast is the fifth of 11 programs in the Challenge Series leading to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on NBC and NBCSN, October 31-November 1 from Santa Anita. Saturday’s show is hosted by Tom Hammond, joined by analysts Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, and reporters Donna Brothers and Eddie Olczyk.

Saturday’s show also includes the $500,000 Longines Test Stakes for fillies and mares, to be run at seven furlongs.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, Palace Malice, the even-money favorite for the 1-1/8-mile Whitney, seeks to improve his 2014 record to 5-for-5 with a win on Saturday. Palace Malice, last year’s Belmont Stakes winner, is a son of 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Curlin, and he has risen to the top of the Classic Division ranks this year with a quartet of graded stakes victories. He kicked off his year winning the Gulfstream Park Handicap in March, won the New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds, and at Belmont Park he scored a win in the Westchester Handicap in May and then the Metropolitan Handicap on June 7, where he earned an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Stiff opposition could come from Willis Horton’s 4-to-1 second choice Will Take Charge, the reigning 3-year-old champion who was second, beaten by just a nose in last year’s Classic for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The 4-year-old won last year’s Travers Stakes at Saratoga, defeating Palace Malice. He has struggled to find his form this year, though, while going 1-for-5, winning the Oaklawn Handicap to go along with three second-place finishes.

Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing looks to win his first career Grade I in the Whitney for trainer Al Stall. The 4-year-old son of War Front, with a career mark of 7 for 11, won a trio of graded stakes as a 3-year-old, including Grade II scores in the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer and Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

Moreno, a 4-year-old son of 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Ghostzapper, returns to the scene of his biggest career run, when he was second, beaten by a nose, to Will Take Charge in last year’s Travers for trainer Eric Guillot. Zayat Stable’s Prayer For Relief, trained by Dale Romans, was second in the Suburban Handicap at Belmont on July 5, and has won over $1.7 million in his career.

Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket, who dead-heated for the win in the Travers in 2012 for trainer Kenny McPeek; Trilogy Stable’s Itsmyluckyday, who enters off a win in Monmouth’s Salvator Mile on July 6 for trainer Eddie Plesa; Godolphin Stable’s Romansh, third to Palace Malice in the Met Mile but a disappointing fifth as the favorite in the Suburban for trainer Tom Albertrani, and The Last Gunfighter, with a win in the Mountainview Handicap Stakes a Penn National two starts this year for trainer Chad Brown, complete the Whitney field.

The Whitney is the fourth of seven “Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup Classic by Moonshine Mullin, winner of the Stephen Foster (GI) at Churchill Downs, Majestic Harbor in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (GI) and Bayern in the William Hill Haskell are the first three to qualify.