Victory In ‘Win and You’re In’ Whitney Would Give Silver State Breeders’ Cup Options

Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Silver State has thrived since returning from a seven-month hiatus in October, demonstrating class and determination with gradual steps up the ladder from allowance winner to Grade 1 winner.

On Saturday, the talented Hard Spun bay will face off against some of the best older horses in the handicap division in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Whitney at Saratoga race course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Silver State’s hot streak commenced at allowance level, when successfully notching his conditions at Keeneland and Churchill Downs last fall. He brought his winning form to Arkansas with a trio of stakes victories at Oaklawn Park.

After a hard-fought outside stretch run in the Jan. 23 Fifth Season, he fended off graded stakes winning veteran Rated R Superstar to capture the Essex on March 13.

Silver State made the grade next out in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 17, where he was little further off the pace than usual, racing along the rail and taking some kickback down the backstretch. Approaching upper stretch, he was tipped out several paths wide and took command inside the eighth pole to win a by a half-length.

Silver State upped his win streak to six with a one-length score in the Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day June 5, where he cut back to one turn and defeated fellow Whitney-aspirants By My Standards and Knicks Go.

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Despite the high hopes, things did not always come easy for Silver State. Following solid placings in the Grade 3 Lecomte [2nd] and Grade 2 Risen Star [3rd] at Fair Grounds in early 2020, he was put to the sidelines following a distant seventh in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at the New Orleans oval.

“Early in his 3-year-old year he behaved like he’d be a really good horse. Hence, why he ran in the Derby prep series in New Orleans,” said Winchell Thoroughbreds racing and bloodstock advisor David Fiske. “He probably just needed to grow up a little bit and fill out. Mentally, he’s always been fine. Silver State never had any issues. He’s always been a solid horse. When we brought him back in the fall, he was a bigger, stronger version of himself.”

The Whitney is a Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” event, offering an automatic entry into the Grade 1, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 6 at Del Mar. With a victory in the Met Mile under his belt, the option of pursuing the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile remains under consideration.

“He’s kind of standing in the median of the interstate at the moment,” Fiske said. “We haven’t really explored a mile and quarter but we’re going to run him on Saturday. It’s a ‘Win And You’re In for the Classic,’ so it would be nice to have.”

Asmussen and Winchell previously joined forces to capture the 2017 Whitney with Gun Runner. The subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year experienced an unusual addition of weight when pacesetting longshot Cautious Giant sprung a horseshoe high into the air, eventually getting entangled in Gun Runner’s tail.

“I even suggested to Steve we tie a horseshoe to Silver State’s tail and see if that helps,” Fiske quipped. “For Gun Runner’s Whitney, we just flew up for the day. We went to the races, went out for a celebratory dinner and then flew home. I guess that made the day more memorable. The horseshoe in the tail and then Gun Runner being Gun Runner made for a big day.”

In 2017, all eyes were on Gun Runner, who went into the Whitney gate as the 3-5 favorite. Silver State, made 6-1 on the morning line, is a part of a more evenly-matched field which includes Grade 1-winner Maxfield and 2020 Preakness-winning filly Swiss Skydiver in addition to 6-5 morning-line favorite Knicks Go and By My Standards.

“You’re going to have to really earn this one. It’s a small but quality field,” Fiske said.

The post Victory In ‘Win and You’re In’ Whitney Would Give Silver State Breeders’ Cup Options appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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