Dubai: Godolphin’s multiple Group 1 winner Thunder Snow chases a first premier division victory in North America when he contests the $1.2 million (Dh4.4 million) Whitney Handicap, one of the top races in the United States outside the Kentucky Derby, at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York, on Saturday.
Thunder Snow, who made history as the first dual winner of the $12 million Dubai World Cup in March, goes into the nine-furlong race as the second favourite behind the Bob Baffert-trained McKinzie, who is a five-time Grade 1 winner.
Conditioned by Saeed Bin Surour at Newmarket in the UK, Thunder Snow was a neck second to McKinzie when finishing a game third in the Metropolitan Handicap over a mile at Belmont Park in early June.
Group 1 Santa Anita Gold Cup winner Vino Rosa and Dubai World Cup sixth Yoshida are also prominent runners in the eight-strong field.
Assessing Thunder Snow’s chances, Bin Surour told the Godolphin website: “Thunder Snow has been working well on the track at Saratoga and looks to be in good order. He has settled in nicely and I am very happy with his condition.
“He is stepping back up in trip and has a good draw in stall four, although it is a very tough race and he is coming up against some strong opposition. We know that Thunder Snow is a tough horse and I am looking for a good result.”
Baffert, who is seeking a maiden victory in the Whitney, also acknowledged that this year’s renewal of the race was a very strong contest.
“There are a lot of Breeders’ Cup Classic horses in there,” Baffert told The Blood-Horse. “They are nice horses. It’s a real grade 1.
“He’s a horse that is getting better with age. He couldn’t be doing better right now. He looks great. His colour looks good. He’s working well. Now he has to get the trip. We’re looking forward to it. I’m excited to see him run.”
Some of the greatest horses in American racing have won the Whitney with Godolphin’s Frosted on that honourable list having triumphed for Kiaran McLaughlin in 2016.
At A Glance
The Whitney Handicap (Grade 1)
When: Saturday, August 3
Time: 1am (Sunday UAE)
Venue: Saratoga Race Course
Distance: 1,900 metres (Dirt)
Purse: $1.2 million
McKinzie 7/4, Thunder Snow 7/2, Reservationist 9/2, Vino Rosso 11/2, Seeking The Soul 7/1, Catalina Cruiser 10/1, Catholic Boy 10/1, Gift Box 12/1, Yoshida 14/1, Monongahela 16/1, Forewarned 80/1, Imperative 100/1