Palace Malice: The horse to beat in the Whitney.Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
Palace Malice: The horse to beat in the Whitney.

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

Since Martin Panza has been appointed Senior Vice-President of Racing Operations for the New York Racing Association, the racing cards have changed in a big way.

Panza, from the West Coast, has targeted a "Big Days Theory" using days such as the Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes and the day following the Travers as big event days, with several stakes races featured to attract fans for a must-see attraction day.

So far, it is working out very well.

The Belmont Stakes, with California Chrome vying for the Triple Crown, would have been well attended anyway, but the undercard ensured an attendance of over 100,000 patrons.

Tomorrow's Whitney Stakes, with a purse of $1.5 million and the presence of Palace Malice, augmented by four other stakes races, constitutes another must-see card for this Saratoga summer.

We'll focus on the 8th through 11th races, all stakes, with the Test Stakes (Race 9) and the Whitney (Race 10) being shown on NBC television from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Regarding the Whitney, Palace Malice is the pro-tem leader of the older handicap division this year, with four wins in as many starts. He's the even-money morning line favorite tomorrow, and deservedly so.

"He really is (an iron horse). He's an uncomplicated horse," said trainer Todd Pletcher at the drawing for post positions on Wednesday. "He's hearty, he stays in the feed tub and you can train him however you want.


I think he actually thrives on action."

One of Palace Malice's main competitors tomorrow will be Will Take Charge, winner of last year's Travers Stakes for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. "It was last year when we saw a real change in him when he came up here (Saratoga). He got into the feed tub, he trained well. I think he has an affinity for this racetrack. You can say the same thing this year. I think he's put on weight since we last ran him."

"We're the champion until someone dethrones us," continued the Hall of Fame conditioner. "I really think it's wonderful that we decide (championships) on the racetrack, not in the press box, not by guys on television. We get them out here, we get them all on the track. The legendary trainer John Nerud told me years ago, 'Championships are always decided in the fall, never in the spring.'"

What follows are my picks for tomorrow's stakes races, the 8th through the 11th on the card. The race name, time, and top three picks, in order, will appear below. Best of luck on a great card.

Race 8 - Alfred G. Vanderbilt Hcp. (Six furlongs, 4:42 p.m.)

Win - Bahamian Squall. Sprinters coming from Florida are usually fit and well meant.

Place - Palace. Always in the money, he'll be the favorite.

Show - Bakken. Shows a series of good works and will be first from the gate.

Race 9 - Test Stakes (Seven furlongs, 5:14 p.m.)

Win - Sweet Whiskey. Todd Pletcher had four fillies entered. This one looks the best of the bunch.

Place - Sweet Reason. Very consistent. She'll be the likely favorite.

Show - Street Story. She's improving by leaps and bounds. Would not be a surprise here.

Race 10 - Whitney Hancicap (Nine furlongs, 5:46 p.m.)

Win - Palace Malice. Takes another step towards Horse of the Year Award.

Place - Itsmyluckyday. He's very good right now and could make a nice exacta for the bankroll.

Show - Will Take Charge. Loves the track and should be right there at the end.

Race 11 - The Lure (Mile and a sixteenth on turf, 6:20 p.m.)

Win - Kharafa. This New York-bred is always right there. As game as they come.

Place - Big Blue Kitten. The Ramseys love to win at Saratoga and are always well meant when entered.

Show - Swift Warrior. Getting good now and loves the game. Consider.

Paul Daley's e-mail address is