Elite Eight

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Without Whitney winner Honor Code to run them down in the stretch, the eight horses in today’s Woodward get a chance at Grade 1 glory from a variety of angles.

Runner-up Liam’s Map and fourth-place finisher Wicked Strong exit the Whitney, the former looking to stretch his speed the full 9 furlongs and the latter aiming for his first win since the 2014 Jim Dandy.

Two-time graded winner Protonico makes his first start since May as part of a four-horse assault – along with Liam’s Map, Brooklyn winner Coach Inge and Alydar runner-up Mylute – from trainer Todd Pletcher. Jimmy Jerkens counters with two, Wicked Strong plus Suburban winner Effinex who was merely a nice New York-bred last summer before blossoming into a graded stakes threat.

Bay Of Plenty won the Alydar on the lead for Godolphin and Kiaran McLaughlin, but will have to deal with a new pace scenario with fellow frontrunner Liam’s Map in the mix. Runner up in the Kentucky Derby and a Travers starter last year, Commanding Curve comes off a dull seventh in the West Virginia Governor’s Cup at Mountaineer Aug. 1 after opening the year with an allowance win at Churchill Downs in May.

Won by the likes of Kelso (three times), Forego (four times), Cigar (twice), Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Spectacular Bid, the Woodward hosts its 62nd running as the 10th race and one of four graded stakes on the card.

To read about what the connections of all the Woodward entrants think of their chances, download Saturday’s digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by Keeneland.