By Jarrod Horak
Opening week at Saratoga has arrived and it is time to analyze the first three stakes races of the meet. First up is the Grade 3 Schuylerville on opening day, July 13, and the Wilton Stakes and Coronation Cup will be run on Friday, July 14. I will be previewing and recapping stakes races at Saratoga all summer.
Grade 3 Schuylerville – Race 9 – July 13
Horses with early-pressing speed win the bulk of local dirt races at six panels. It is tough to decipher the race shape because so many of these fillies have only faced the starter once and they are still learning to run.
Wine On Tap is the logical favorite for Todd Pletcher. Irad Ortiz Jr. guided her to an easy debut win as the favorite at Belmont Park on June 18 and she was professional that day. They paid $600k for the daughter of Tapit and there could easily be more in the tank.
Saratoga Secret was equally as impressive in her winning debut at Ellis Park for Wayne Lukas. This $200k Arrogate filly might offer a hint of wagering value and should continue to develop.
Carmelina is the inside speed for crafty conditioner Robert Reid Jr. Her new rider Jose Ortiz is almost certainly on a send mission. Her uncoupled stablemate Kiss for Luck also wired the field in her 4 1/2 furlong debut at Parx. Both of these fillies should impact the pace.
Sugar Treat is an intriguing contender on the surface switch. Mark Casse only ran her on all-weather ground in her bow because that race was available when she was ready to run. She did not earn the strongest speed rating that day but she overcame a less than ideal trip from the intimidating inside post and looked good winning, and runner-up Escape Room easily wired the field as the favorite in her second career start. Flavien Prat hops aboard the outside stalking threat and she can compete with these if she handles conventional dirt. She might be worth a gamble if the 6-1 morning line price holds up.
The competitive 11-horse field also includes first timer Becky’s Joker, Astoria runner-up Union Suit, debut winner Status Seeker, Astoria winner Closing Act, and debut winners Dancing Diana and Mila Junes.
The Schuylerville goes as the 9th race on Thursday with a scheduled post time of 5:44 PM Eastern Time.
Wilton Stakes – Race 4 – July 14
Five runners will travel a flat mile in this contest. This group will break out of the chute and post positions will probably not be a factor due to the compact field.
Forwardly placed runners are typically strong at this distance and this race seems to go through Chad Brown’s barn. He has morning line favorite Randomized and second choice Accede. The former is a $420k daughter of Nyquist and she easily broke her maiden at this distance in her March return, and was unplaced in the Grade 1 Acorn last time. The latter won her sprint bow in March and came running for the show in the Eight Belles (G2) second time out. She stalked and weakened in the Acorn on June 9. I picked her on top last time and am willing to give her another chance under Flavien Prat.
Sacred Wish figures to stalk the pace and she drilled a turf bullet for this engagement. She rallied for the place in the GP Oaks (G2) in April. She was up the track in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) in May and exits a clear runner-up finish in an optional claiming affair at Belmont Park. This distance looks just about right.
Unsung Melody will probably go for the early lead from post 2. Both of her wins were at six panels and she will have to prove herself at this longer distance.
Just Katherine breaks from the rail and she will try to pass them all. She was no threat in her lone stakes attempt in the aforementioned GP Oaks.
Coronation Cup – Race 9 – July 14
Stalking types win more than expected in local 5 1/2 furlong turf dashes, and it is tough to score from outer posts.
I really want to see what morning line favorite Love Reigns can do in this spot for Wesley Ward. I covered her in a Saratoga article earlier this week. She won a similar stakes race at this course and distance last summer, and tuned up for this with a smart return score in the Limehouse at Keeneland. Joel Rosario has options with the versatile filly.
Love Appeals exits a sharp turf sprint win in the optional claiming ranks at Aqueduct, and the runner-up was a next-out winner. Christophe Clement’s filly will probably save ground stalking the pace under her winning rider Manny Franco.
Bosserati and My Sweet Affair finished 1-2 in the Stormy Blues at Laurel Park on June 18. The former likes to set the pace and the latter packs a decent late kick and reconnects with her winning rider Ortiz Jr.
Anna’s Arabesque, Violet Gibson, surface switching speed horse Wildhawk, and Unified Alliance are also entered. L Street Lady is entered for main track only purposes and would probably take a good amount of wagering action if this race is transferred to dirt.
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