First Look: Whitney day probables for four graded stakes

Many of racing’s brightest stars will have the spotlight on them on Saturday at Saratoga. The card features four graded stakes, three of which are Grade 1s, led by the $1,200,000 Whitney Stakes.

In addition to the Whitney, Saratoga will host the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) at 7 furlongs for 3-year-old colts; the $700,000 Personal Ensign (G1) at 1 1/8 miles for older fillies and mares; and the $250,000 Bowling Green (G2) at 1 3/8 miles on turf for older males.

Here is an early look at how these great fields are shaping up.

$1,200,000 Whitney Stakes (G1)

The complexion of the Whitney changed a bit when trainer Bob Baffert called an audible, electing to run Improbable instead of McKinzie, but all eyes remain on the surging Tom’s d’Etat. The likely favorite has won four starts in a row, including the Stephen Foster last out. They do not just give $1.2 million away, however, and as expected, he will face stiff competition, including Grade 1 winners Code of Honor and Improbable and Grade 2 winner By My Standards.

$500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1)

Pace will make the race in the 7-furlong H. Allen Jerkens Memorial. No Parole was able to make the lead with relative ease en route to a victory in the Woody Stephens last out. Tap It to Win will try to make life more difficult for No Parole this time around, and he possesses the early speed to keep the likely favorite in his sights despite cutting back from 1 1/8 miles in the Belmont Stakes. Echo Town, Shoplifted and Mischevious Alex, 2-3-4 respectively in the Woody Stephens, will hope a faster early pace can help them turn the tables on No Parole.

$700,000 Personal Ensign (G1)

The shortest priced runner on Saturday’s card will be multiple Grade 1 winner Midnight Bisou. She seemed a bit vulnerable last time while making her first start back from a huge effort in the Saudi Cup, but that could not stop her from taking the Fleur de Lis (G2). Grade 2 winner Point of Honor, who was a strong second in the Ogden Phipps last out, is a talented runner in her own right, but if Midnight Bisou brings her ‘A’ game, the battle will be for second.

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