Will’s Way, ridden by Jerry Bailey, came from just off the pace to score by a nose over Formal Gold in Saturday’s $350,000 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.
Formal Gold, who took the lead at the start and narrowly missed holding onto it at the end, was 6-1/2 lengths ahead of the favorite, Skip Away, who failed to pose a serious threat at any point. Circle of Light, Editor’s Note and Pyramid Peak completed the order of finish.
Will’s Way, defeated by Skip Away in each of their last two meetings at Suffolk Downs and Belmont Park, rediscovered the form that saw him prove the better of the two in last year’s Travers.
Will’s Way covered 1-1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:48-1/5, earning $210,000 for William Clifton and Rudlein Stable with his second victory in four starts this year and his first graded stakes victory since the Travers.
Will’s Way returned $6.50, $3.50 and $2.10. Formal Gold paid $3.90 and $2.10 and Skip Away was worth $2.10.
“I can honestly say that I knew that he was going to run this good,” winning trainer James Bond said. “Coming into the race, he was doing outstanding and he was training very well. I worked him over the Oklahoma track because I felt that the deep surface would help him.
“He really loves Saratoga and he loves this track. Maybe Skip Away didn’t take a liking to this track but Will’s Way proved to everyone that last year’s win in the Travers was definitely no fluke.”
As for future races, “I just don’t know,” Bond said. “The Breeders’ Cup (at Hollywood Park on Nov. 8) is our main goal but, for now, I just want to enjoy the day.”
Bailey rode five winners on Saturday, joining a select group made up of Julie Krone, Angel Cordero, Ron Turcotte and Mike Smith. No rider has won six in a day at Saratoga.