Cross Traffic wins Whitney
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Racing for just the fifth time in his career, Cross Traffic came up with a big one at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, holding off Successful Dan by three-quarters of a length in the 86th running of the Whitney Handicap.
It was the third Whitney win for trainer Todd Pletcher and fourth for jockey John Velazquez.
They teamed up to win it in 2002 with Left Bank and in 2007 with Lawyer Ron, and Velazquez won the Whitney with Commentator in 2008.
"Johnny was able to get the position he wanted without overdoing it and picked it up from there," Pletcher said. "It was a strongly run race throughout, and I was just hoping he could hold on the last part, after the two losses we had at Belmont. Those were heart-breaking losses."
Unraced at 2 and 3 because of minor physical issues, Cross Traffic won his first two starts this year, then was second by a head to Flat Out in the Westchester and second by a nose to Sahara Sky in the Met Mile.
Successful Dan was second despite falling on his right side in the post parade.
As he led the eight-horse field down the path between the paddock and track, he got his hind feet tangled up andon his right side, sending Julien Leparoux to the ground.
They resumed the post parade, and Leparoux asked for the track vet to double-check that Successful Dan was OK.
"He was fine after that, and he ran big today," Leparoux said.
"It's unfortunate that happened, but I don't think it took anything away from him," trainer Charlie LoPresti said.
Fort Larned, the 6-5 favorite who won the Whitney last year, tracked Cross Traffic into the grandstand turn, but faded in the stretch and finished fifth.