Woodward Stakes 2016 Preview


MyWinners Expert Team

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A colorful opening day, fourteen Grade 1 stakes and a multitude of on-track entertainment – the last couple of weeks at Saratoga racecourse have been as spectacular as ever. Now that it’s time for the Spa to bow out of its summer racing tradition, horse racing fans will be treated to one final showdown in the handicap division at the historic race course.

On September 3, Saratoga will stage its annual Woodward Day, headlined by the G1 Woodward Stakes. While not as prestigious as the Travers Stakes and Whitney, this 1 1⁄8 mile race for three-year-olds and up has had its fair share of hosting the biggest equine stars such as Affirmed, Curlin, and Ghostzapper.

The Woodward has a handsome $600,000 purse attached and also awards the winner a starting position in the Breeders’ Cup Championships in November. One of this year’s Woodward contenders, Frosted, has already secured a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Dirt Mile.

Saturday’s race card will also feature three supporting events – the G3 Glens Falls Stakes (worth $200,000), the G3 Saranac Stakes (worth $300,000) and the G1 Spinaway (worth $350,000). But, the Woodward Stakes will garner the most attention, as bettors are eager to see if Frosted can prove that he is not just another one-hit sensation this season.

With barely two days left before the big race, Frosted has still not relinquished his top billing status in the build-up to the race. It’s hard not to look past his recent campaign when trying to position him in the upcoming race. The four-year-old son of Tapit returned stateside with full force after a stint in Dubai. He notched up a record-setting victory in the Met Mile at Belmont Park in June, clocking in at 14 ¼-lengths. He went on to take out the competition in the Whitney, popping right up at the front in the first quarter mile and bursting through strong fractions on his way to the finish line.

While it’s unlikely that Frosted will give us a performance that will be etched in Woodward history, he will undoubtedly be the pick of the bunch in Saturday’s race. He is able to adapt his racing style – whether it’s an early charge or push-from-behind, Frosted can easily stand up to any pace.

Bradester looks to be one of Frosted’s strongest rivals in Saturday’s field. He has a reputation as a speeder, therefore, the son of Lion Heart could set the pace out of the starting gate. However, it should come as no surprise if he burns out early; Bradester gave a lukewarm performance in the Foster Handicap, which he won after a sluggish start. As a probable candidate for the mile category, the Woodward’s distance may be out of his comfort zone.

Mubtaahij has been dawdling on the edges of the limelight since winning the 2015 UAE Derby and has some handicappers disregarding him lately. He claimed the second place in the Dubai World Cup and finished third in the Suburban Handicap, showing that he has massive potential. A slow pace and his wide draw may be his biggest drawbacks but the Woodward’s distance could suit him well. A second or third finish could be on the cards for the four-year-old son of Dubawi.

Saturday’s line-up is completed by Shaman Ghost, Breaking Lucky, Catholic Cowboy, Samraat, Tale of Verve, and Tapin Mojo.