White Abarrio Gives Trainer Rick Dutrow a Whitney Win

Thanks, babe.

Rick Dutrow, Jr. is back in the winner’s circle in a big way.

With his signature “Thanks, babe,’’ following an interview after the trainer sent out White Abarrio to an upset of Cody’s Wish in the $1 million Whitney (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday, Dutrow is ready for an extra special birthday celebration.

Dutrow, who was suspended for 10 years – 10 years! — by the New York Racing and Wagering Board for numerous rules violations, recently regained his license after serving his entire suspension.

Winning the Whitney, one of the most prestigious races in New York, if not the country, is probably the best way to mark his 64th birthday.

“It’s the best present I’ve ever had for my birthday,'” Dutrow said. “I am happy, very happy.”

White Abarrio ($22.40), formerly trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr. but recently transferred to Dutrow, took command around the final turn and romped to a 6 ¼-length victory over Zandon , with 2-5 favorite Cody’s Wish third.

Dutrow, who won the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) with Big Brown in 2008, claimed his first Grade 1 win since 2012. The victory earned the gray colt a free “Win and You’re In” spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 4. Dutrow said the colt’s next start will be in the Breeders’ Cup, but the BC Dirt Mile (G1) also is under consideration.

“We are looking at the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll see how the horse comes out and wherever we go we’ll have confidence he’ll run big,” Dutrow said.

There was disappointment in the Cody’s Wish camp. The 5-year-old son of Curlin had won six in a row – including three Grade 1s – and was rated the nation’s top horse. With his connection to 17-year-old Cody Dorman, born with the rare genetic disorder Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and unable to walk or speak, the colt seemed unbeatable.

Cody’s Wish got off to his usual slow start under Junior Alvarado and was last in the six-horse field after three-quarters of a mile. But he rallied and moved into contention, although he was unable to catch the leaders in the run to the wire.

‘’I don’t think he ran his race today. It might have been the distance,’’ Alvarado said of the 1 1/8-mile race, a longer distance than he’s used to running. “When I hit the three-eighths pole, I was very worried. I had never got this feeling with him before and today I knew I was in trouble. I tried to keep him confident to keep him going, but right when he switched to the right (lead), he got flat on me. I had to ask him at the three-eighths and start riding and he started picking it up, but he wasn’t quite as fast as I wanted.”

Cody’s Wish defeated both Zandon and White Abarrio in the 1-mile Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont on June 10.

“I knew he was ready. I was working him before this and he was so positive on the horse,’’ winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. said. “I knew he was going to break good, and I could sit second or third from there. That’s what I did. The horse was ready, and he took me all the way to the quarter-pole nice and easy; and when I asked him, he was there for me.”

Melanie Giddings hugs Maple Leaf Mel’s groom- Photo credit Skip Dickstein

The 4-year-old White Abarrio was moved to Dutrow’s barn prior to the Metropolitan Handicap, where he finished third. Under Joseph, White Abarrio won five of 12 starts, including the 2022 Florida Derby (G1).

Tragedy in the Test

Two races earlier, in the $500,000 Test Stakes (G1), Maple Leaf Mel sustained a catastrophic injury a few strides before the finish line and was euthanized on the track due to a severely injured front right leg.

Pretty Mischievous ($5.70) won the race, with Clearly Unhinged second, and Munnys Gold third. Maple Leaf Mel, a New York bred trained by Melanie Giddings, came into the race with a 5-0 record.

Saratoga Derby goes to Program Training

In another Grade 1 at the Spa, Program Training ($9.20) went gate-to-wire and edged Webslinger by a head in the $600,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational. Trained by Chad Brown, the 3-year-old ridgling was ridden by Flavien Prat.

Winning time for the 1 3/16 miles on the turf was 1:56.63






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