Good Samaritan should spring Whitney upset

The historic Grade I, $1.2 million Whitney Stakes will be renewed for the 91st time at Saratoga this Saturday. The 1 1/8-mile classic drew nine of the best older males in America, led by DIVERSIFY and MIND YOUR BISCUITS. Post time for the Whitney, Race 9 of 11 on the day, is 5:46 p.m. EST. Several stakes will be contested at “The Spa” this Saturday, so study carefully if taking part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#6 DIVERSIFY (7-5, morning-line favorite) and #4 MIND YOUR BISCUITS (2-1) are the presumptive favorites in the Whitney, but they each have flaws worth examining. DIVERSIFY ran a hole in the wind in the 1 1/4-mile Suburban last time out, but that effort four weeks ago may have taken too much out of him. He’s also struggled at the Whitney distance, posting a 4-1-0-0 record, with his only win occurring over just three others (albeit it was at Saratoga last summer). If MIND YOUR BISCUITS and #2 BACKYARD HEAVEN press him as they’re expected to, DIVERSIFY will have his work cut out for him in the Whitney.

MIND YOUR BISCUITS has never won going a route distance before and has never even tried nine furlongs. He was an ultra-impressive second in the Met Mile last time out, but this glaring gap in his résumé makes him impossible to endorse.

#7 GOOD SAMARITAN (12-1) is the pick to come from off the pace to score. Joel Rosario and MIND YOUR BISCUITS can’t let Irad Ortiz Jr. and DIVERSIFY get away early. His pace pressure combined with the presence of Javier Castellano and BACKYARD HEAVEN should create a favorable set up for GOOD SAMARITAN and Jose Ortiz. Toss his effort in the Met Mile, as the distance was too short for him. GOOD SAMARITAN is 3-2-1-0 going nine furlongs, with one win occurring in last year’s Jim Dandy over this course. A potentially muddy course could be a concern, considering GOOD SAMARITAN has never run over one before, but it doesn’t move his opponents up that much.

BACKYARD HEAVEN (9-2) finished well-back in a strange renewal of the Stephen Foster that saw longshot Pavel strike the upset.  That one race shouldn’t be held against him too much, considering his strong record going into that start. However, the pace scenario he’ll encounter doesn’t work to his benefit. BACKYARD HEAVEN is best used underneath.

#1 TAPWRIT (6-1) is winless in three starts since last year’s Belmont Stakes but has produced competitive-enough speed figures to land a share in a race like the Whitney. However, he received a grossly-unfair impost of 124 lbs, the same as race favorite DIVERSIFY. MIND YOUR BISCUITS totes just 117 lbs. John Velazquez has the call on TAPWRIT.

The play: $5 win/place 7 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Javier Castellano rides almost exclusively for trainer Chad Brown on Saturday and has a fleet of solid mounts lined up. All but one of his nine mounts are 5-1 or below on the morning-line and two of those are favored. Key stakes mounts include Precieuse (De La Rose), Alter Moon (Test), and BACKYARD HEAVEN (Whitney).

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