KRA Stud Farm's KNICKS GO and jockey Joel Rosario took the field gate to wire and pulled away late in winning Saturday's Win and You're In $1 million Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.
The victory secured KNICKS GO's spot in the 2021 Breeder's Cup Classic, as well as produced a 118 Equibase Speed Figure, the highest of his career. The win also gave winning trainer Brad Cox his first Whitney title.
Sent off at odds of $1.05-to-win, KNICKS GO broke sharply and cleared the lead, setting fractions of 23.42 and 46.76 for opening quarters. It was five lengths back to SWISS SKYDIVER in second.
"I was challenged a little bit going to the first turn, but [Swiss Skydiver] sent a little bit and I was just going to see what they were going to do and take it from there," Joel Rosario said. "I was a half-length in front going into the turn and I just decided to keep him going forward."
Rosario permitted KNICKS GO to cruise through the backstretch, maintaining his speed to clock 1:10.32 for the third quarter.
Rosario continued: "The way he was moving he just skipped to the last quarter-pole. He loved what he was doing. He was very relaxed and going forward. I was really happy with the way he was going, turning for home." (Paulick Report)
Turning for home, the field came within a length and a half of the lead, but when Joel Rosario roused KNICKS GO for more run, the response was instant. He kicked away clear again, opening up by more than four lengths at the wire. MAX FIELD fought well to keep second. SILVER STATE got up for third. The final time for the one mile and one-eighth on dirt was 1:47.70.
"He ran huge." Said trainer Brad Cox after the race. "There's always a concern when you ship to Saratoga and this can be a demanding surface. I thought the race at Prairie Meadows really tuned him up well. He was well within himself and that was his big work for this race five weeks ago. He had three maintenance works at Ellis and he came in here a fresh and happy horse, ready to go."
Brad Cox continued: "Maybe down the lane at the sixteenth pole I thought, 'Oh wow'. He's going to win this thing', and at that point I was thinking, 'What a horse. What a performance.' For him to go forty-six and change and spread out down the backside and get away from them and just kick on at the eighth pole and have to fight off some really, really good challengers. This was an incredibly deep group of horses and I'm very proud of the effort of my horse today."
KNICKS GO paid $4.10 to win, $2.70 place, and $2.20 to show. He is by PAYNTER out of KOSMO'S BUDDY by OUTFANKER. He improves to 8 wins, 3 seconds, and 1 third from 22 total starts, and pushes his earnings to $5,368,995.
Asked for KNICKS GO's path moving forward, trainer Brad Cox said: "He's a very sound horse and he's happy. We wouldn't be here if he wasn't. We'll come up with a plan somehow. We'll just let the dust settle but it will probably be the Classic." (Paulick Report)
Source: Equibase, Paulick Report