Does it rain in Alabama?
Real Writing on Racing 💯
We woke to the expected monsoon which wiped the grass races out but the stormy weather wasn’t around long, giving way to another beautiful day of main track only’s littering the card. We won’t take too long discussing yesterday’s races as the Friday happy hour Margaritas at the Mexican Connection has made my short term memory a bit fuzzy.
🏅The opener was conducted over a good old fashioned muddy track after the morning showers and the public was conflicted between Corey and Quinn, a FTS by Uncle Mo for Team Cox and third time starter, Vivid Dreams a daughter of Arrogate who has attracted Irad for the Pletch gang. The three year old maiden fillies were led down the backside of the six furlong event by Spun Special who was in turn stalked by Corey and Quinn with Vivid Dreams not far back in 4th. Turning for home Corey and Quinn had shrugged off the early leader and a brief challenge from Crushed Ice before Irad sent Vivid Dreams to try the Uncle Mo filly. Flo Go kept her in a drive and by mid-stretch she had also repelled Vivid Dreams with only late closing La Girvina having any chance. Alas it was too late and Corey and Quinn splashed under the wire a safe length and a half clear of La Girvina with Vivid Dreams a few more lengths back in third. Interestingly the winner was not treated with lasix.
🥇Race 5 was an off the grass first level allowance race that went on the main track at 9 furlongs and was a scratchfest with only three left to answer the starters orders. Sent off at 2-5 was MTO Paddington, a three year old Curlin colt who was coming out of a blowout win in a starter allowance race at the distance first time off the Linda Rice claim, after breaking his maiden previously by 19 in the slop at Ellis Park. Rice also trained the lone refugee from the body of the race, Royal Spirit, who had just run second in an off the turf allowance going 10 furlongs earlier in the meet. The longshot of the trio at 7-2 was the other MTO Crupi, (who was actually one of the GIC Digests early season Derby sleepers 😵) also by Curlin, he was exiting a narrow maiden win at Monmouth in career start number 8. Paddington and Irad bounded right to the lead from the starting gate, setting solid fractions over the mud while maintaining a couple length lead down the backstretch. Racing as a pair behind him, Royal Spirit on the inside and Crupi on the outside were both being hustled by Jose Lezcano and Luis Saez respectively as they passed the half mile marker. Saez put Crupi in a full drive heading towards six furlongs, first collaring then passing Paddington on the far turn while Royal Spirit was angling out to commence his rally. Crupi headed for home with a two length advantage though briefly it appeared that Royal Spirit would give him a run for his money, he flattened out and Saez and Crupi were home free. Irad finally gave up on Paddington and just galloped him under the wire 15 lengths in arrears. The final time was a solid 1:49.76 and perhaps we found out today that Crupi likes a wet track and he needs to be ridden aggressively as Saez was after him the entire way, as he does with Tapit Trice when that one was finding success.
🚢 The day’s lone stake was the Skidmore which was originally scheduled to be held on the Mellon course but like all the others was moved to the main track. The Wayne Lukas trained Seize the Gray, an Arrogate colt who was exiting a sloppy track maiden win was sent off as the 9-5 favorite in the field of 9. Second choice was Mike Makers Ship Cadet, a Midshipman colt who was making his 4th start, he was second in the Tremont and Tyro his last two starts. When the field left the gate, Ship Cadet and Manny Franco sprinted clear, firing off the first quarter in 21.77 and remaining clear around the turn, hitting the half in 45.47 then extending his margin to 3 before cruising home, never seriously challenged by runner up, NY bred El Grande O. The second place finisher had an eventful trip, to say the least, finding trouble multiple times and never seeming to run straight the entire race despite it being his fourth career start. Seize the Grey got a little lost on the turn and put in a mild rally to be third. I don’t anticipate the figs coming back too salty from this race though there were a lot of tough trips to be found. For more details and a replay of the race click Here.
🆓 The Alabama is the DRF race of the day. Check out the Free PP’s Here
👑 The King Edward stakes is run today at Woodbine. Read about one of the main contenders Here
🇫🇷 For those who are up early and wish to partake in some French racing here is the 2 yo group II stakes from Deauville
⛈️ The rain has been so bad at Saratoga this year…even Del Mar is getting it! Read about how Sunday’s card where the surf meets the turf may be in trouble.
💸 Asmussen to abandon year round stabling at NYRA because of financial issues.
📰 Today’s Saratoga Special can be found Here.
🇺🇸 vs 🇫🇷 Tonight at Saratoga Harness! Jockey Flavian Prat takes on Driver Brett Beckwith in the trotting match of the year. Post time approx 8:00
🚨 Off the turf report for Saturday: Races 2-6-11 are OFF the grass while 3-7-10 are on as scheduled.
💵 The GIC Digest Play of the Day from ‘the Sniper’ Barry Spears in race 7 x the Lake Placid stakes 💵
Lake Placid (Gr II) $200,000 3yo fillies 1 1/16 Inner Turf
Heavenly Sunday - a NY turf stake with more than one speed type isn’t something we see everyday. That said, this filly has shown the ability to rate before in her career though she may be best on the front end. From post one I’d assume she will be sent out to the lead and perhaps let someone go and maneuver to that one’s outside if the pace gets too hot. Probably needs to run a lifetime top to win but it’s not out of the question. See how the inner grass is playing prior to this race for more clues
Aspray - cuts back in distance from last but should get ideal inside stalking trip under Prat after wide trip at Belmont. Has paired 8 TG’s and may be primed for another forward move. Big contender. ⭐️ Sniper Play of the Day
Gloria’s Princess - Walsh filly steps up in class after showing good early foot in bother her maiden and allowance win on the Kentucky circuit. Has to deal with the presence of Heavenly Sunday and her early speed so Saez has a decision to make early. Does lose lasix but she is pretty fast and improvement makes her a player here.
Tax Implications (GB) - May have been best in the Lake George (Gr III) when beaten by ground saving stablemate. Figures to get a similar forwardly placed stalking trip and is a big contender here though she doesn’t seem to hit the wire on top often
Junipermarshmellow - showed promise as a two year old but has been off for 252 days. Will be hoping for a swift early pace as a confirmed closer in a race that seems to have a lot of early pace types. She has to run her career best to be a factor in her three year old debut but the price will be right
Soviet Express - stayed behind with the Pletcher B team in south Florida this spring before shipping north to try stakes company in the Wild Applause at Belmont. Wasn’t great that day and will need to improve quite a bit to be an on the board player in this spot.
Surge Capacity - Klaravich homebred parlayed a perfect ground saving trip and an ability to handle soft ground to a win in the Lake George for the Brownies. Clearly talented yet will need to do better here as that perfect pocket trip is likely going to be unavailable this go around.
Prerequisite - set a slow pace in the Belmont Oaks going 10 furlongs before being run down by Euro Aspen Grove. Will likely be taken off the lead in here on the cutback and will have to workout a stalking trip which I’m skeptical will put her at her best.
Leave No Trace - (MTO) last years Spinaway (Gr I) winner and BC juvy filly runner up bombed in her only 2023 start in the Davona Dale (Gr II). Have to respect her in a short field and the track will likely be fast based on the weather reports.
Undervalued Asset - (MTO) also got thumped in the Davona Dale (Gr II) but regrouped in a pair of sprints and will be a major factor if this is transferred to the main track.
Alabama (Gr I) $500,000 3 yo fillies 1 1/4
Sacred Wish - just missed in heartbreaker in the CCA Oaks when Wet Paint got her late. She is of this quality but my question would be is the added distance more than she truly wants to navigate? Johnny V replaced Franco and another stalking trip is likely but can she finish strong enough to hold off the other main contenders?
Wet Paint - put in her patented late rally to steal the CCA Oaks trophy away from Sacred Wish. Seems like the pace scenario might be a touch better today and the 10 furlongs should suit her. With a win in the Alabama she can rightfully claim to have a shot at the champion three year old filly title depending on what happens the rest of the fall with Pretty Mischievous.
Julia Shining - unseen since the Ashland where she was wide throughout, has worked well but faces issue that has troubled her throughout her brief career, she can’t take dirt in her face. Post 3 doesn’t help with that at all and figure Saez to try to angle her to the outside in turn one. Distance should be up her alley based on her pedigree and with some earlier luck she should be finishing well at the end.
Sabra Tuff - too tough for her
Fireline - didn’t fire in Delaware Oaks and stretches out further here which may not be what she wants.
Chocolate Gelato - super fast juvenile, she faded in the BC Juvy fillies before missing time and retuning in the Jersey Girl stakes the day after the Belmont. She was a no show there and it’s an interesting spot for Pletcher to stretch her out to off of one weak six furlong race. Perhaps he puts her on the lead?
Gambling Girl - late runner was flat in the CCA Oaks and may be looking to regain the form she had when almost upsetting the Kentucky Oaks in her prior start. Perhaps her stablemate Chocolate Gelato was entered to make the pace for her?
Randomized - figures to be forwardly placed as she is one of the few in here with natural early speed though her ability to navigate the 10 furlongs is a big question mark.
Taxed - has improved steadily her entire career but a lack of early speed hampers her ability to get good position and will likely force her to be wide perhaps both turns which makes winning a tough task
Defining Purpose - going 10 furlongs lessens the bad post draw somewhat as there is ample room for Brian Hernandez to maneuver to grab good postion heading into the first turn. The distance is a question mark though but her ability to work out a good stalking trip exists and that might make her a nice longshot possibility in here.
📽️ November Snow won a rousing edition of Alabama in 1992 for Allen Jerkens just 15 days after winning the Test. Check out both races below 👇🏻