Princess of Sylmar Proves No One-Hit Wonder in Coaching Club American Oaks

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Princess of Sylmar wins the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks Princess of Sylmar wins the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks

Princess of Sylmar put an exclamation point on her Kentucky Oaks score with an authoritative six-length win in the 97th running of the Grade 1, $300,000 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

Last of five behind a modest opening half-mile in 48.98 seconds, Princess of Sylmar began to pick off rivals inside the three-eighths pole while racing under jockey Javier Castellano’s hold. She claimed a narrow lead at the head of the stretch, then pulled clear under a drive as pacesetter My Happy Face gave vain chase in second.

The 2-1 second choice, Princess of Sylmar returned $6.30 for a $2 win wager and completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.07.

“I had a beautiful trip,” said Castellano, who had ridden Princess of Sylmar twice earlier in her career but wasn’t aboard for her Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks victory. “The way I handicapped the race, I really liked her, and Todd [Pletcher] gave me a lot of confidence in the horse. I really appreciate that Todd give me back the horse because I couldn’t hook up in the [Kentucky] Oaks. I really liked the way she did it. It was a great performance today. She ran like the best horse in the race. I’m really proud of her.”

Princess of Sylmar, who races for Ed Stanco’s King of Prussia Stable, has now won six of her past seven starts, including the Busanda and Busher over the inner track during the winter at Aqueduct. After finishing second to Close Hatches in the Grade 2 Gazelle on the main track in April at the Big A, Princess of Sylmar rallied from 10 lengths back to post a 38-1 upset in the Kentucky Oaks on May 3 at Churchill Downs.

“We kept her in New York [over the winter]; it was a conscious decision,” said winning Todd Pletcher, who won the Grade 3 Shuvee Handicap earlier on the card with Authenticity. “We had a choice to make in February whether to bring her down to Florida. We certainly thought she was good enough, but she was doing so well and had such a good rhythm, we came up with a game plan and we stuck to it.

“Honestly, people who were maybe at Aqueduct this winter were more impressed than the people who don’t pay close attention to Aqueduct in the winter,” Pletcher continued. “So, maybe even though they were not really against the best fillies in the country, they were very impressive performances. I think everyone kind of lost sight of the fact that going into the Kentucky Oaks, it was billed as the best Oaks we’ve seen in 25 years, this filly wins it and gets virtually no respect. I think today she put herself at the top of the leader board, and now everyone understands that the Kentucky Oaks was a real race.”

Overall, Princess of Sylmar, a Pennsylvania-bred, has six wins and a second in eight starts. The $180,000 winner’s share of the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks purse pushed her lifetime earnings to $1,007,220.

Marathon Lady was third and was followed home by Cue the Moon and favored Unlimited Budget.

See the full chart here.

TVG Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) Quotes

Todd Pletcher, winning trainer of Princess of Sylmar (No. 4) and fifth-place finisher and beaten favorite Unlimited Budget (No. 3): “I thought she was always traveling really well. There wasn’t a lot of pace in there and they were tightly bunched. We made a mistake in the Gazelle when we felt like Close Hatches was the only speed. We kind of took her out of her running style, so I told Javier [Castellano] regardless of the pace, don’t do that, just let her find her rhythm. I think she’s got a very strong closing kick regardless of the fractions; just let her do her thing.”

“We kept her in New York; it was a conscious decision. We had a choice to make in February whether to bring her down to Florida. We certainly thought she was good enough, but she was doing so well and had such a good rhythm, we came up with a game plan and we stuck to it. Honestly, people who were maybe at Aqueduct this winter were more impressed than the people who don’t pay close attention to Aqueduct in the winter. So, maybe even though they were not really against the best fillies in the country, they were very impressive performances. I think everyone kind of lost sight of the fact that going into the Kentucky Oaks, it was billed as the best Oaks we’ve seen in 25 years, this filly wins it and gets virtually no respect. I think today she put herself at the top of the leader board, and now everyone understands that the Kentucky Oaks was a real race.”

On Unlimited Budget: “It all kind of went wrong at the break. She missed the break completely and Johnny [Velazquez] had to hustle her into a spot on the inside, and it just all went wrong right at the start. We were anticipating being in a close stalking position with her, and that all went wrong.”

Javier Castellano, winning jockey aboard Princess of Sylmar (No. 4): “I had a beautiful trip. The way I handicapped the race, I really liked her, and Todd gave me a lot of confidence in the horse. I really appreciate that Todd give me back the horse because I couldn’t hook up in the [Kentucky] Oaks. I really liked the way she did it. It was a great performance today. She ran like the best horse in the race. I’m really proud of her.”

“She’s a come-from-behind horse. There was a lot of speed in the race, and they hooked up. The biggest thing was it was a small field today, and she was able to come from behind. She did a great job.”

“It’s amazing. I was on the right filly. It was my second winner today and my first Grade 1 for the meet. I’m looking forward big-time and I hope I can get many more.”

Chad Brown, trainer of runner-up My Happy Face (No. 1): “I thought she ran great. I thought Joel [Rosario] rode a flawless race. If you had told me in the paddock I was going to get away with a 48 and change half, I would have said, ‘Sign me up.’ [Jockey Joel Rosario] did everything he needed to do – he made the lead, he held the lead, he slowed everyone down. She was second-best today. I’m real proud of the way she ran.”

Joel Rosario, jockey on runner-up My Happy Face (No. 1): “Perfect trip. We were second best. She went good, relaxed really nicely, and she was keeping going. The winner was just much the best. She didn’t quit. She was turning for home and still trying. I feel like she gave me a good ride.”

John Velazquez, rider aboard beaten favorite and fifth-place finisher Unlimited Budget (No. 3): “She didn’t break, and as soon as she didn’t break, that was it. Over. I was stuck on the inside and she didn’t want to run in there at all.”

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  • Beach

    Princess of Sylmar is getting bigger–and man, can she pump those legs!! Ran everybody down at the beginning of the last turn… :-)

  • Kingturf

    I agree she ran a really good race. Now I just hope she is managed right on the track I think there’s something special about her. Plus we saw the problem of diving in with the G-1 boys in Unlimited Budget today. I went into that race saying; let her bust up my tickets…did not even have her in my back up tickets.

  • mchiefgallo

    there is so much more to this story of the princess, she is a home bred, owned and raced by a partnership headed by mr .stanco. the whole thing is just a racing fans dream. she just might be the sneaky choice for the horse of the year. she has two more dates on her card the Alabama at the spa and the coalition at parx. the team hopes to race her back in 2014. this horse is what dreams are made of.

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