Thunder Snow seeks first stateside win in Whitney

The Grade I, $1 million Whitney Stakes is the feature race at Saratoga this Saturday. The 1 1/8-mile classic attracted eight runners, five of which have earned over $1 million on the track. Post time for the Whitney, Race 9 of 11 on the day at “The Spa,” is 5:46 p.m. ET.

#4 THUNDER SNOW (3-1) was last seen rallying for third in the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes day. The distance appeared to be too short for the only two-time winner of the 1 1/4-mile Dubai World Cup, so the stretchout in the Whitney is appealing. He has never won in North America in four tries (4-0-1-2) but has been competitive each time while racing in the highest echelon of the sport. THUNDER SNOW has trained well over this course and should get a good stalking trip under regular rider Christophe Soumillon.

#6 MCKINZIE (7-5, morning-line favorite) has come up short in three of his first four starts this year, burning plenty of win money in the process. One of those losses was by a nose to Santa Anita Handicap winner Gift Box, and his most recent defeat could be attributed to a troubled trip in the Met Mile where he was forced to check in the stretch. MCKINZIE offers little value as a considerable morning-line favorite but is tough to dismiss with Hall-of-Fame connections in Mike Smith and Bob Baffert in his corner.

#8 PRESERVATIONIST (3-1) is a lightly-raced six-year-old son of Arch, but he could be well worth the wait for Centennial Farms. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens has helped PRESERVATIONIST find the winner’s circle three straight times, placing him judiciously before testing him in Belmont’s Suburban Handicap last month. PRESERVATIONIST made the grade with an impressive score over multiple Grade I winner Catholic Boy. PRESERVATIONIST should be forwardly-placed in the Whitney under Junior Alvarado. He is far from impossible in this spot.

#5 VINO ROSSO (6-1) ran his best race to date in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita when last seen, going by Gift Box in the lane. The Todd Pletcher trainee is right at home at Saratoga, as he won last year’s Jim Dandy Stakes and trains there frequently. John Velazquez should help get VINO ROSSO into the exotics.

The play: $8 exacta 4/6,8, $4 exacta 4/5 ($20)

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