Twinspires.com Weekend Stakes: Where To Watch
A new season at Saratoga is ushered in on Friday with the running of the Grade 3 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies. It’s the first of a half-dozen graded stakes taking place this weekend from coast to coast. At six furlongs on the dirt, the Schuylerville now has six expected starters, after three scratches that include the top two finishers from Churchill Downs’ G3 Debutante, Flashy Lassie and Five Star Momma. Georgie’s Angel, trained by Todd Pletcher, earned an 83 Beyer Figure when breaking her maiden at Churchill in early July and is the morning line favorite.
Saturday’s Saratoga card is highlighted by the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks, a venerable 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-old fillies. This year’s field is a small but very competitive group of five, three of them Grade 1 winners. Royal Delta, without the benefit of a Grade 1 success, has been tagged the 2-1 morning line favorite. The daughter of Empire Maker has been off since her victory in the G2 Black-Eyed Susan on May 20. Buster’s Ready captured the G1 Mother Goose in June; runner-up in that race was Joyful Victory, who also returns here. Trained by Larry Jones, Joyful Victory’s biggest wins came at Oaklawn Park where she won both the G3 Honeybee and the G2 Fantasy. Bob Baffert’s interest in this race is Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty. She followed up that triumph with a second-place effort in the G1 Hollywood Oaks coming up short to Zazu. It’s Tricky, winner of Belmont’s G1 Acorn, has been entered for Godolphin Stable by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Elsewhere on Saturday, there are a pair of graded turf races—the G3 Stars and Stripes at Arlington Park and the G1 Eddie Read at Del Mar. In the Stars and Stripes, a 1 ½-mile marathon, it’s hard to see past Winchester, who makes his 2011 debut here. He was a multiple Grade 1 winner last year, though ended the season on a down note, finishing far back in the Hong Kong Vase. He returns to Arlington for the first time since taking down the 2008 running of the G1 Secretariat.
Acclamation passed on the G3 Sunset last weekend at Hollywood Park to go in the Eddie Read instead. The 5-year-old son of Unusual Heat won the Charles Whittingham (G1) and Jim Murray (G2) Memorial handicaps at Hollywood Park on the turf, both at longer distances than the 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read. Acclamation ran sixth in last year’s edition of the Eddie Read, which was won by another son of Unusual Heat, The Usual Q.T. Celtic Princess is the lone female in the field; she most recently won the G2 Royal Heroine Mile, and previous to that, was short by just a head in the G1 Gamely. The well-traveled Smart Bid has shipped in for trainer Graham Motion. Since the Augustin Stable homebred left Santa Anita in January of last year, he’s hit the board in seven straight races, coming away with a win in the G2 Mervin Muniz at the Fair Grounds.
On Sunday, juvenile males are in the spotlight at Saratoga, while 3-year-old fillies will take the stage on Del Mar’s turf course. At The Spa, Overdriven should be favored over seven others in the G2 Sanford. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Tale of the Cat son won at first asking at Belmont, earning a 100 Beyer in the process. He’ll have competition from Jack’s in the Deck and Tarpy’s Goal, first and third in Belmont’s G2 Futurity run July 3.
Carrying high weight in the G2 San Clemente Handicap is undefeated Sarah’s Secret, who is going for a fifth straight win. Trained by Kathy Walsh, Sarah’s Secret won both of her starts over synthetic surfaces as a 2-year-old, and was perfect in two starts on the Hollywood Park turf this season. She comes into this one-mile test off a June 11 wire-to-wire win in the 1 1/8-mile G2 Honeymoon Handicap. Mizdirection dominated when winning her maiden by over 11 lengths on the Hollywood turf. That was followed up by the Manhattan Beach, where she raced in traffic through the stretch and could not get better than second by the time the wire came up.
Woodbine has two graded stakes on tap on Sunday—the $300,000 Nijinsky (Can-G2) for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles on the turf and the Ontario Matron (Can-G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the synthetic track for fillies and mares. On Wednesday, the G2 Lake George, for sophomore fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf, will be run at Saratoga.