SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) - Cross Traffic repelled favored Fort Larned, then held off a late bit by Successful Dan to win the $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap by three-quarters of a length Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
John Velazquez rode the lightly raced 4-year-old, who took the lead in the run to the first turn and responded when challenged near the three-eighths pole by defending champion Fort Larned.
"It worked out perfect, the way we wanted" Velazquez said. "He broke well from the gate, and that was our plan: Break well, get a nice run into the first turn and see where we land. We landed on the lead in a nice pace, so it was perfect."
The win was Cross Traffic's third in five career starts.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Cross Traffic set an extremely fast pace, remained strong in the stretch at ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.64. He paid $9.10, $5.40 and $4.40 and earned $450,000 for Goldmark Farm.
Successful Dan, unscathed after flipping in the saddling paddock, returned $5.90 and $4.90. Mucho Mach Man, third of eight, paid $5.20.
"The first quarter was key," Pletcher said. "Johnny was able to get to the position he wanted without overdoing it, and kind of picked it up from there. It was a strongly run race throughout, and we were just hoping he could hold on the last part after the two losses we had at Belmont. Those were heart-breaking losses - to run as well as he did in those two races and miss by a whisker. Turning for home, I thought we had a big shot, but I was still wanting to get there."