Trainer Brad Cox hasn’t mapped out a route, but he does have a preferred destination.
After an impressive win by Knicks Go in the $1 million Whitney at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, the 5-year-old horse has an automatic berth in the mile-and-a-quarter $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6 as part of the “Win and You’re In” qualifying series.
The BC Dirt Mile also remains an option, since Knicks Go won it last year.
On Saturday, Cox said both destinations were in play, but with a night to digest Knicks Go’s dominating win at a mile and an eighth in the Whitney, he’s targeting the BC Classic.
With that in mind, Cox will look for one more start before the Breeders’ Cup.
“We’ll let the dust settle, but my thoughts would be to give him a race five to six weeks out,” Cox said. “I haven’t really dug into it yet, the biggest thing is how he came out of yesterday’s race. It would be nice to get a race into him between now and then, but where that might be I don’t know.
“I was really pleased with how he looked this morning. He ate up well, so everything is really positive.”
Knicks Go ran away from the Whitney field early, then ran away from them again on the second turn when his rivals were closing the gap. He won by 4 1/2 lengths over Maxfield.
He’ll likely move to the top spot when the NTRA national poll rankings come out on Monday.
“He was a very good horse last year, and he’s a better horse now,” Cox said. “Last year he was able to win the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile against a great group of horses. He had one prep going into that about five weeks out. This year, he’s been able to race throughout the winter and rebounded well. He’s had three races this summer, so he’s been campaigned with more foundation this year, so I just have to think he’s a better horse. He’s a more accomplished horse and built a nice foundation.”
“Knicks Go ran the race that I thought if he ran it, everybody else was running for second, and that’s what he did,” said Bret Calhoun, By My Standard’s trainer. “He ran everybody else off their feet. He went fast early, and he kept running.”
By My Standards finished last of five in the Whitney, after stumbling and losing a shoe out of the starting gate.
Calhoun said he’s not sure what to do next, especially since they had been targeting the Whitney for much of the season.
“And really didn’t have a plan until we got through this race,” he said. “Of course, now this is a race that you draw a line through and then just go on to the next spot. I guess the Jockey Club [Gold Cup on Sept. 4] would be a possibility. Just throwing that out there, I have no idea, haven’t talked to the owner about it at all. We hadn’t picked any spots, but I know that’s out there, it’s a Grade I, and we definitely want to win a Grade I with this horse.”
KING FURY UPDATE
King Fury, who missed the Jim Dandy as a Travers prep because of a quarantine in trainer Kenny McPeek’s barn, was sent to Saturday’s Saratoga Derby Invitational instead, his first race over turf.
The idea was to get a good race into him as a substitute for the Jim Dandy, and King Fury finished 10th of 11.
The Travers remains the goal.
“He was hung out wide the whole time,” said McPeek’s assistant, Francis Chiumiento. “He needed a race, too. Unfortunately, we were using a $1 million race as a prep. He handled the turf well but he was wide the whole time. He needed that race to tighten him up, and I think he’ll be very strong for the Travers. He came back happy and walked great this morning.”
The 12-race Whitney Day card, generated record all-sources betting handle of $36,820,234, eclipsing the previous Whitney Day record of $35,796,435 set in 2020, when fans weren’t allowed on the grounds because of the pandemic.
On-track handle was $6,707,742 and paid admission totaled 38,525 on Saturday.
Whitney Day in 2019 yielded all-sources handle of $31,835,864 and on-track handle of $7,078,192.
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