The Charles Whittingham Stakes at Santa Anita could not present a greener path to the winner’s circle for race favorite United. You’re sending out a turf terror with one of the best riders in the country aboard – Flavien Prat.
You’re sending that turf terror out on a turf course he owns. Five of United’s eight career victories came at Santa Anita, including last year’s Grade 2 Whittingham, where he nipped Rockemperor by a nose. He is 5-for-10 at Santa Anita.
You’re sending United out in the form of his life. In his last 10 races, the 6-year-old gelding is 5-3-1. He captured five of his last seven races, including March’s Grade 3 San Luis Rey Stakes. That victory came at 1 ½ miles on the Santa Anita turf. It also came with a finishing flourish that swept United past Say the Word, who went on to win his next race.
And you’re sending United out against only three other contenders. That includes two decent, but apparently overmatched rivals – Award Winner and Red King. Award Winner seeks his first graded stakes win in only his third try.
United stands tall in the Whittingham
As for Red King, he’s already got a piece of United. He claimed that piece at the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap on the Pacific Classic undercard last summer. Umberto Rispoli audaciously steered Red King six-wide around the pack with a half-mile to go. He beat United by a head for one of his two graded stakes victories in 31 races.
The Whittingham, however, is another United front. He finished second in the 2019 Whittingham before winning last year. It was that 2019 Whittingham that doubled as United’s graded-stakes debut, when he lost to Marckie’s Water by less than a length.
Since that 2019 Whittingham, United won two Grade 2s: the Eddie Read and the John Henry Turf Championship, and that Grade 3 San Luis Rey.
The Whittingham gets its name from the legendary trainer, who died in 1999. Yet, Whittingham still ranks third with 869 Santa Anita stakes victories.