Continuing her dominance of the 3-year-old filly division, Princess of Sylmar registered an easy victory in the 133rd renewal of Saratoga Race Course's Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama at 1 ¼ miles on Saturday.
Princess of Sylmar now has won seven of her past eight starts and becomes the first filly since Hall of Famer Open Mind in 1989 to sweep the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, and Alabama.
Backed as the 1-2 favorite in the field of five, Princess of Sylmar was never far off the pace as she raced in fourth through an opening half-mile in 48.16 seconds and three quarters in 1:12.77.
With three-eighths to travel, Javier Castellano angled Princess of Sylmar into the four path, and she swooped to the lead. Comfortably in front turning for home, the daughter of Majestic Warrior needed only mild urging to find the wire 2 ½ lengths to the good of Fiftyshadesofhay, who finished 3 ¾ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Carnival Court.
“With a small field, there was not much to think about,” said Castellano. “The way I handicapped the race, three horses had the speed, and the way it unfolded it was the perfect trip for her. She's a come-from-behind horse. I just let her enjoy the trip and when she was ready to go I asked her, and she just took off. She went right by them. She's an amazing horse. Everything we've asked, she has responded so well so far.”
Princess of Sylmar, a Pennsylvania-bred, returned $3 for a $2 win wager and completed 1 ¼ miles in 2:03.21.
“There wasn't a whole lot of pace,” said winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who earned his first Alabama victory. “She was doing it on her own; she was in a nice rhythm, so I thought she was in a perfect spot. I thought she won pretty convincingly. Anytime you run a mile and a quarter, it can be a taxing race, but I thought she did it well within herself.”
Since 1999, five fillies have won both the Kentucky Oaks and the Alabama, and four later were named Champion Three-Year-Old Filly.
“The Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks – that's a pretty hard trifecta to win, so I'll say she has definitely established herself as the Champion Three-Year-Old Filly, unless somebody does something [big],” said Pletcher.
Owned by Ed Stanco's King of Prussia Stable, Princess of Sylmar won her first stakes in January when she took the Busanda at Aqueduct, and one month later she added another easy score in the Busher. After finishing second to Close Hatches in the Grade 2 Gazelle in April at the Big A, she posted a 38-1 upset in the Kentucky Oaks in May at Churchill Downs, and entered the Alabama off a six-length win in the Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks on July 20 at Saratoga.
Overall, she is 7-1-0 in nine starts and has earned $1,367,220, including $360,000 for her Alabama win.
Pletcher said plans for Princess of Sylmar will be decided at a later date.
“I don't think we'll make a decision right away,” said Pletcher. “We never make decisions right after a race, but Ed [Stanco] is committed to running her next year, and, who knows, maybe even as a 5-year-old. At some point you don't want to be greedy, but at the same time she is doing unbelievably well, and sometimes you have to take advantage of that, so we have some thinking to do.”
Galloping Giraffe edged Montana Native for fourth. Tell a Great Story was scratched.
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