As we all know, sometimes big sporting events can feature some big disappointments. The Whitney Stakes at Saratoga on August 7 was NOT one of those events.
Featuring as talented a five horse field as you will find on a day not called the Breeders’ Cup or a Triple Crown race day, this grade 1 race was something to behold. All of the starters had won at least a million dollars on the track with Knicks Go being the favorite in this all-star group.
Good competition can bring out the best in some and if anyone wondered how the bettor’s choice would respond, they got their answer 1 minute and 47 seconds after the gates opened. Coming in off a superb effort in the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows, trainer Brad Cox made no bones about the race strategy here. The plan was to let him do what he does best, break to the lead and run like the wind.
The thing about this talented son of Paynter is he had been VERY good at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021. A pair of fourth place finishes before the Cornhusker had allowed for some headscratching. Athletes will go through peaks and valleys, but could this super fast five year old continue to carry his speed over a mile and an eighth and especially against this kind of talent?
Breaking immediately for the lead as expected, Knicks Go had company in the form of the talented female Swiss Skydiver. Unable to keep up the early pace, she quickly dropped back as the Maryland bred rolled through solid opening fractions (23.42 opening quarter, 46.76 half mile) almost effortlessly. At the top of the stretch, most had to wonder who in the fab four behind him would come to challenge.
As the runners turned for home and Knicks Go had a three length lead, he continued to churn towards the wire. The challenge never came as this Brad Cox trainee was a perfect blend of speed and power. Muscling with the might of a runaway locomotive, Knicks Go was much the best on this day. Finishing a good five lengths ahead after being geared down, this was one of those wow performances that most can only dream about.
“We knew he was ready coming into the race”, says Brad Cox. “But honestly, you could never expect a performance like that.”
The gate to wire Whitney romp was his eighth win in twenty two lifetime starts. Knicks Go has now won over $5.3 million on the track. Now with a fees paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Cox will decide what is up next for his swift stable star.