From the Spa: August 7 Midlantic-breds in Saratoga stakes
by Joseph Aiello
“From the Spa” returns to keep you up-to-date on horses bred in the mid-Atlantic racing in Saratoga stakes
In a loaded Saturday card at the Spa which features five stakes races and three grade ones, it is the older horses who are in the spotlight for the 94th running of the Grade I Whitney Stakes. The Whitney is a mile and one eighth race for four year olds and up on the dirt featuring an evenly-matched and accomplished five horse field where any of the runners could realistically find their way into the winner’s circle. The most experienced in the group with twenty-one starts, however, is Knicks Go, the 6/5 morning line favorite who also paces this field in earnings with over four and a half million.
After a shocking 70/1 score in the Grade I Breeders Futurity as a two year old in 2018, Knicks Go struggled to find his front-running footing and didn’t pick up his second win for over another year as a four year old. Perhaps the biggest change before that breakthrough effort for this grey horse by Paynter – Kosmo’s Buddy, by Outflanker was switching into the barn of trainer Brad Cox, one of the top conditioners in the country. With Cox, Knicks Go has re-established himself as a threat to go gate to wire in any race he enters, picking up wins in five of his last seven efforts. Highlighting those wins are the Grade I Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile and Grade I Pegasus World Cup Invitational, but perhaps his most impressive victory came last time out in the Grade III Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap. Knicks Go flashed his trademark early speed in that try, putting away his five competitors before even entering the stretch to win by ten. He returns to Saratoga for the second time after running fifth in the Grade III Sanford three summers ago, but this time Knicks Go enters as the target of this field, with plenty of expectation to take them all the way around.
Bred In Maryland by Angie Moore, Knicks Go has obviously proven himself as an older horse with Brad Cox, but the impact of jockey Joel Rosario cannot be overlooked. Rosario has ridden Knicks Go in his last six, and despite rarely riding for Cox, they have won eleven races together in just twenty-four tries over the past year. Rosario is known as one of the best finishers in the game, and always gets Knicks Go to pull away from the rest when he enters the top of the stretch with a lead. This strong jockey-trainer combo as well as Knicks Go’s speed and finishing ability should have owners Korea Racing Authority very confident entering the Whitney on Saturday, as they look to turn their $87,000 yearling purchase into a five million dollar career earner.