Whitney Stakes Odds & Picks: Saturday’s Best Bets at Saratoga Race Course

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Breeders’ Cup pedigree and potential turf-racing royalty greet nationwide bettors with a splendid Saratoga Saturday package, headlined by the $1 million Whitney Stakes. As the fabled summer track sports an industry-best stakes menu of nearly $3.4 million for the day, let’s look at odds and picks for the Whitney, as well as the Saratoga Derby Invitational that precedes it.

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Odds, Picks & Betting Overview for Saturday’s Whitney Stakes

The $1 million Whitney Stakes is headlined by Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner, Cody’s Wish, winner of six straight. Post time for this 1 1/8-mile event for horses three years old and up is 5:42 p.m. ET. Here is the field for Saturday’s race:

EntryJockeyTrainerMorning-Line Odds
PP. 1 ZandonJoel RosarioChad Brown9-2
PP. 2 Charge It John VelazquezTodd Pletcher5-1
PP. 3 Giant GameLuis SaezDale Romans20-1
PP. 4 Last SamuraiFlavien PratD. Wayne Lukas15-1
PP. 5 White AbarrioIrad Ortiz Jr.Rick Dutrow Jr.6-1
PP. 6 Cody's WishJunior AlvaradoBill Mott1-2

The pressing issue is whether Cody’s Wish can stretch to a novel 1 1/8-mile distance. Otherwise, he toyed with most of this field in winning the Metropolitan Mile in June. He won comfortably over Zandon, White Abarrio, and Charge It, who vie with him here.

Giant Game and Last Samurai prove they at least belong with the others in this field. But that would keep them behind Cody’s Wish, who is at the peak of his career.

Cody’s Wish had 1-2 betting odds on Thursday. He could be even shorter on Saturday.
Cody’s Wish (here winning Met Mile with jockey Junior Alvarado) is the morning-line Whitney favorite with 1-to-2 odds (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Betting Considerations for Whitney Stakes

Cody’s Wish has been assigned 1-to-2 morning-line odds by the track handicapper. He could go off at an even shorter price on Saturday.

Some bettors may find the favorite unplayable on the win line, except for some big bettors who might slam him if they can get 3-5. But they may not get that price.

You are trying to leverage a small field and an absence of choice. There is Cody’s Wish on one tier and the rest of the field on the second level. Separating the second tier won’t be easy.

Whitney Picks

Here are some bets to consider for Saturday’s Whitney.

Win Wager

Probably Not

Exacta Wager

$5 Exacta Box 1-6 (Zandon and Cody’s Wish)
Rationale: Zandon is often able to rally into the bridesmaid position. Finished reasonable second, just ahead of White Abarrio in the Metropolitan Mile. Covers you just in case Cody’s Wish runs second.

Trifecta Wager

$1 trifecta box 1-5-6. (Zandon, White Abarrio, Cody’s Wish)
Rationale: Just like they finished in the Met Mile. This paid $37 in the field of eight. Maybe it pays $25 in a field of six.

$2 trifecta, 6 over 1,5
Rationale: A more precise wager, figuring Cody’s Wish won’t lose, and these horses will beat the rest. Some bettors may bang this one, figuring they don’t want to spread. A $10 trifecta with these combos costs $20. Get this five times and if it returns $25 for every $2, you get back $125 for a $20 investment. Even if you got half that much, it’s a 3-1 return. Is that enough?

Spot Play

If you are sure of the first two spots, for example, take one horse for third for $10. The bet would look something like: $10 trifecta, 6 with 1 with 5. Small investment, would return some profit.

Under Consideration

Putting Last Samurai in third spot with a couple of other horses in the trifecta. Post-time call.

Final Thoughts

Take one or two of your favorite bets and try to be precise. Key to the money is being right on one heavy bet.

Tutorials: What is an exacta bet in horse racing? | Superfecta bets explained | Place bets | Show bets

Saratoga Derby Odds & Betting Contenders

The $600,000 Saratoga Derby is the middle jewel of the Triple Crown on turf, a relatively new series contested solely in New York. It attracts some of the world’s top turf horses and goes off at 5:01 p.m.

Far Bridge, who won the $750,0000 1 1/4-mile Belmont Derby last month, tries to add the middle jewel in this 1 3/16-mile test. This is the turf equivalent of the Preakness.

The finale of the turf Triple Crown, the $500,000 Jockey Club Derby Invitational, is set for Oct. 7 during the Belmont at the Big A meet at Aqueduct Racetrack.

This is more wide open. Here’s a look at the field, with post position attached.

No. 5 Far Bridge (2-to 1 morning-line odds)

Won the $750,000 Belmont Derby and will be the horse to beat here. Must move a little earlier than in the last, which was 1 1/4 miles. Viable in the money, could be vulnerable on the win line, may be overplayed.

No. 1 Mondego (5-t0-1 ML odds)

What a price bettors got for his third-place effort at 44-1 in the Belmont Derby.

Back to 5-1 now and shortens to 1 3/16 miles. He led at that point in the Derby before tiring. Tries to maximize shorter course.

No. 2 Program Trading (7-2)

Has done nothing wrong in winning at maiden and allowance. Getting betting respect in this move up the class and distance ladder.

No. 6 Webslinger (4-1)

Finished right behind Mondego in the Belmont Derby and was blocked. Could hit the board with better racing luck. Showed the ability to make up multiple lengths, rallying from dead last. Ability to surge is in his favor. The shorter course is not.

No. 3 Aspen Grove (12-1)

Captured the $500,000 Belmont Oaks at 15-1 with a demonstrative surge. A similar move in this race puts this filly in the money, maybe even the winner’s circle.
Given this victory at the track and savvy nature of New York bettors, any price near the morning-line betting odds of 12-1 would be a good break.

Next Level of Betting Respect

No. 8 Lion of War (8-1)

Has a game second in the $100,000 Golden Gate Stakes at Ascot. Must be better than most thought to beat these.

No. 7 Battle of Normandy (20-1)

Has not been able to contend at this level.

No. 4  The Franchise (30-1)

Has not raced against the best in Europe and ships.

No. 9 Truly Quality (12-1)

Has a win over the track, which will mean something to the bettors.

Saratoga Derby Betting Analysis

There is an assumption that Far Bridge can just turn it on whenever necessary and get the job done. He’s a little better than the field, but not much the best. I will include him in tickets and hopes he hits the board without winning.

Win Wager

$5 Win and Place on the 3 (Aspen Grove)
Cost: $10
Rationale: I liked the move in the Oaks.

Exacta Wager

$5 exacta Box 3-5 (Aspen Grove, Far Bridge)
Cost: $10
Rationale: Puts the upsetter and the favorite on one ticket.

Trifecta Wager

$1 box 1-3-5. (Mondego, Aspen Grove, Far Bridge)
Rationale: Top graduates from Belmont Derby with the upstart filly.

Superfecta Wager

10-cent superfecta box 1,2,3,5,6. (Mondego, Program Trading, Aspen Grove, Far Bridge, Webslinger)
Rationale: Throws a few upset possibilities into the mix, while covering the bettor both for longshots and the favorite hitting the board.

Under Consideration

$1 trifecta 3-5 ALL and 5-3 ALL.
Cost: $14
Rationale: Assumes that Aspen Grove is still viable. This would pay well. I have other bets in case I incorrectly fell in love with the Aspen Grove underdog angle. That’s why a mix of possibilities is good.

Best of luck bringing a collection home.

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About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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