NBC Presents Live Coverage of Whitney from Historic Saratoga This Saturday at 5 p.m. ET; Bobby Flay Makes NBC Sports Debut as Horse Racing Analyst and Handicapper
NEW YORK (August 3, 2017) – Led by multiple graded stakes winner Gun Runner, a top field of seven horses is set for the 1 1/8 mile, $1.2 million Whitney this Saturday, August 5 at 5 p.m. ET on the live NBC broadcast from Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The one-hour ‘Summer at Saratoga’ program, which will also include the Longines Test Stakes, is a part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In – Presented by Lane’s End Farm and America’s Best Racing.
Sunday’s show is fourth of 11 telecasts in the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In, presented by Lane’s End Farm and America’s Best Racing," on NBC and NBCSN, featuring 17 “Win And You’re In” races plus other major stakes on the road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, November 3-4, at Del Mar outside San Diego, which will also be televised by the NBC Sports Group. Saturday’s show also will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and NBC Sports app. Winners of these Challenge races, which combined offer more than $10 million in purses, automatically qualify for a spot in the Breeders’ Cup.
Bobby Flay joins the NBC broadcast for the first time as a racing analyst and handicapper. Known worldwide as a prolific chef, restauranteur and television personality, Flay, a native New Yorker, is a prominent figure in the Thoroughbred racing industry as an owner and breeder, and is a Director on the Board of Breeders’ Cup Limited. Flay was the co-owner of last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Creator, and owned the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner More Than Real.
Flay will be joined on the broadcast by host Krista Voda, and Hall of Fame Hall of Fame jockey and analyst Jerry Bailey, analyst Randy Moss, and reporter Laffit Pincay III. Daily Racing Form’s Matt Bernier will also serve as a Handicapper.
Saturday’s Whitney, for 3-year-olds and up, will award the fourth automatic berth into this year’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series. The Whitney is a race rich in history, as four of its winners went on to capture the Classic in the same year: Awesome Again in 1998; Invasor (ARG) in 2006; Blame in 2010 and Fort Larned in 2012.
The 4-5 favored Gun Runner, owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm and trained by Steve Asmussen, qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic when he won the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 17. Gun Runner’s impressive first half of the season, which included a victory in the Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park in February, and a strong runner-up finish to defending Classic champion Arrogate in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, has earned him the No. 3 rating in the most recent Longines World’s Best Race Horse Rankings. A 4-year-old son of Candy Ride, Gun Runner has won eight races in 15 lifetime starts and has career earnings of more than $4.6 million. Florent Geroux will ride Gun Runner from post 6.
An intriguing challenger to Gun Runner is Donegal Racing and Calumet Farm’s 5-year-old Keen Ice, the 3-1 second choice for trainer Todd Pletcher. In 2015, Keen Ice shocked the racing world by defeating Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Since then, though, Keen Ice suffered a long dry spell and did not win a race in 10 tries until he captured the July 8 Suburban Stakes at Belmont Park by three lengths. Breaking from post 5, Keen Ice, a son of 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Curlin, will be ridden by Jose Ortiz.
Loooch Racing Stable’s 5-year-old gelding War Story (6-1), breaking from post 1 under Javier Castellano, won the 1 ½-mile Brooklyn Handicap on June 10. Tu Brutus (Irad Ortiz, Jr. post 4), third in the Brooklyn Handicap, is next at 8-1, the same odds as Breaking Lucky (Luis Contreras, post 2), who was third in the Stephen Foster. Discreet Lover (Eric Cancel, post 7) and Cautious Giant (Jose Bracho, post 3) complete the Whitney field.
The Longines Test at 7 furlongs for 3-year-old fillies, which precedes the Whitney on Saturday’s broadcast, has 10 starters and is led by the Bob Baffert-trained Faypien, who won the Summer Stakes at Santa Anita in her last start.