Cross Traffic holds on to take Whitney Invitational Handicap

Cross Traffic (center) captures the Whitney Invitational Handicap at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday. Alpha, the 2012 Aiken-trained horse of the year, finished sixth.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Cross Traffic repelled favored Fort Larned, then held off a late charge 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 was Cross Traffic’s third win in five career starts.

Alpha, the 2012 Aiken-trained horse of the year, finished sixth.

The Todd Pletcher-trained Cross Traffic set an extremely fast pace, remained strong in the stretch at ran 1⅛ miles in 1:47.64. He paid $9.10, $5.40 and $4.40 and earned $450,000 for Goldmark Farm.

Successful Dan returned $5.90 and $4.90. Mucho Macho Man paid $5.20 to show.

WEST VIRGINIA DERBY: In Chester, W.Va., Departing rebounded from a sixth-place finish in the Preakness in May to win the $750,000 race by 8¾ lengths at Mountaineer Park.

With Robby Albarado aboard, Departing paid $4.80, $3.20 and $2.20. Ruler of Love returned $8.60 and $4.00, and Overanalyze paid $2.40 to show. The winning time in the 1⅛-mile race was 1:51.47.

Departing earned $451,500 to increase his career total to $1,056,100.

HAMBLETONIAN: In East Rutherford, N.J., driver Brian Sears swept trottings two biggest races for 3-year- olds for the second time in five years, capturing the $1.2 million Hambletonian with Royalty For Life.

Royalty For Life covered the mile in 1:52.2, a fifth of a second slower than his winning heat. Smilin Eli was second and Corky third.

The win came less than 30 minutes after Sears won the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks with Bee A Magician.

Sears also did it in 2009, capturing the Hambletonian with Muscle Hill and the Oaks with Broadway Schooner.

The 45-year-old Sears had the best horse in both races at the Meadowlands Racetrack, which will open a new building in November. It hosted the Hambletonian race in heats for the first time since 1996.



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