A titanic battle pitting many of the top handicap horses in the country awaits us in the $1 million Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday. An octet of accomplished runners will vie in the 1 1/8-mile event, which is a “Win & You’re In” qualifying contest to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Here is the field:


IMPERATIVE

Imperative Career Racing Stats

49 Starts
7 Wins
8 Place
4 Show
Total Career Earnings: $3,277,810

Top BRIS Speed rating (106) in 2014 Charles Town Classic (G2) win

Owner: Ron Paolucci Racing and Imaginary Stables
Breeder: Glencrest Farm LLC and Darley (KY)
Trainer: Anthony Quartarolo
Jockey: Jose Bracho

Sire: Bernardini
Dam: Call Her
Color: Bay

Nine-year-old draws the rail for this demanding assignment. The bay gelding shows just a single win –an allowance score in Ohio – over the past two seasons, and his form simply does not match up with his competition on this occasion. This Kentucky-bred will have Jose Bracho in the silks in what could be his career finale.


FOREWARNED

Forewarned Career Racing Stats

17 Starts
6 Wins
4 Place
0 Show
Total Career Earnings: $205,613

Top BRIS Speed rating (97) in recent allowance second

Owner: Uriah St. Lewis
Breeder: Preston Stables LLC (OH)
Trainer: Uriah St. Lewis
Jockey: John Bisono

Sire: Flat Out
Dam: Fortune Play
Color: Bay

Longshot has been productive for his new connections since being purchased for $40,000 at auction last fall. The bay colt could continue to be a solid racehorse, but he has never shown the ability that it would take to make an impact in such a deep and accomplished field. The four-year-old will try to pick up some pieces late.


MONONGAHELA

Monongahela Career Racing Stats

24 Starts
6 Wins
11 Place
2 Show
Total Career Earnings: $381,043

Top BRIS Speed rating (104) in Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) victory

Owner: Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables LLC and Gary Aisquith
Breeder: Gunpowder Farms LLC (PA)
Trainer: Jason Servis
Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Sire: K One King
Dam: Record High
Color: Bay

This five-year-old is on a nice run in advance of the Whitney and he deserves a chance against this kind of cast with his current form. The Jason Servis pupil has finished first or second in 17 of 24 lifetime assignments, and his latest race was his best yet when dominating in the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G2) at Monmouth Park. The Keystone State-bred could get a minor share with a sensible ride under Jose Lezcano.


THUNDER SNOW

Thunder Snow Career Racing Stats

24 Starts
8 Wins
7 Place
4 Show
Total Career Earnings: $16,511,118

Top BRIS Speed rating (106) in 2018 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) second

Owner: Godolphin LLC
Breeder: Darley (IRE)
Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon

Sire: Helmet
Dam: Eastern Joy
Color: Bay

Two-time Dubai World Cup (G1) champion makes his Saratoga debut in strong field as a most logical contender. The classy son of Helmet was an excellent third in the Met Mile (G1) in his most recent performance, and the globetrotter should thrive on the stretch out to nine furlongs on this day. The $16 million earner retains the services of regular pilot Christophe Soumillon and will always be forwardly placed in this historic event.


VINO ROSSO

Vino Rosso Career Racing Stats

12 Starts
5 Wins
0 Place
2 Show
Total Career Earnings: $1,253,125

Top BRIS Speed rating (105) in 2018 Belmont Stakes (G1) second

Owner: Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable
Breeder: John D. Gunther (KY)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John Velazquez

Sire: Curlin
Dam: Mythical Bride
Color: Chestnut

Four-year-old colt comes in fresh after notching his first Grade 1 tally in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1) in May. The Todd Pletcher pupil was third in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) on this course last summer and is reportedly coming up to this contest in fine fashion. The Kentucky-bred colt has run well in each of his 2019 assignments to date, but he will need another step forward to upset this superb field on Saturday.


MCKINZIE

McKinzie Career Racing Stats

11 Starts
6 Wins
4 Place
0 Show
Total Career Earnings: $1,703,560

Top BRIS Speed rating (112) in 2019 Alysheba Stakes (G2) and 2018 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) wins

Owner: Karl Watson, Paul Weitman and Mike Pegram
Breeder: Summer Wind Farm (KY)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Mike Smith

Sire: Street Sense
Dam: Runway Model
Color: Bay

The Bob Baffert trainee has been first or second in all but one lifetime performance, and appears to be sitting on a another big race in his Spa debut. The four-year-old son of Street Sense has been high-class since his juvenile campaign and comes in off of a troubled second in the Met Mile (G1) most recently. The colt is training in very swift fashion at Del Mar and will be ultra-tough to upend if he takes to the Saratoga main surface. Mike Smith has the assignment once again.


YOSHIDA

Yoshida Career Racing Stats

15 Starts
5 Wins
3 Place
0 Show
Total Career Earnings: $2,185,648

Top BRIS Speed rating (104) in 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) fourth-placing

Owner: China Horse Club International Ltd., Head of Plains Partners and WinStar Farm LLC
Breeder: Northern Farm (JPN)
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: Joel Rosario

Sire: Heart’s Cry
Dam: Hilda’s Passion
Color: Bay

Multiple Grade 1 victor has proven capable of running with top-class horses on both dirt and turf. The Bill Mott trainee made a brilliant late run to capture the 2018 Woodward Stakes (G1) in his lone try at Saratoga, and this five-year-old will benefit most in the field if a pace duel occurs. The late-running Japanese-bred has been unplaced in each of his three races in 2019, but his affinity for the course goes a long way.


PRESERVATIONIST

Preservationist Career Racing Stats

8 Starts
5 Wins
1 Place
2 Show
Total Career Earnings: $572,300

Top BRIS Speed rating (116) in Suburban Stakes (G2) romp

Owner: Centennial Farms
Breeder: Emory A. Hamilton (KY)
Trainer: James Jerkens
Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Sire: Arch
Dam: Flying Dixie
Color: Bay

Surging star roared home a most impressive winner in the Suburban Stakes (G2) last out, earning a robust 116 BRIS Speed figure in the process. The lightly raced son of Arch has a sharp turn of foot but can also show early presence, as he did last time at Belmont Park. The “now” horse in the field has never been a full two turns to date but he will be hard to ignore following his recent tour-de-force. Expect Junior Alvarado to put the Kentucky-bred in the mix from the start.