Saratoga stakes previews: Alabama week

Wet Paint wins Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks (Susie Raisher Photo)

By Jarrod Horak

The Grade 1 Alabama is the feature race of the week at Saratoga, and it is the biggest event of the summer for sophomore fillies. The mile and a quarter distance will probably trip up many of the runners, but the distance probably won’t hurt morning line favorite Wet Paint. This race could have major implications on the 3-year-old filly title, especially if Wet Paint gets the job done.

Click here for Saratoga Racing Picks, Tips, and Insider Analysis

Skidmore – August 18 – Race 8 – 5 1/2 furlongs dirt

This race was originally scheduled for turf but has been moved to the main track. The dirt oval is listed as muddy as of this writing. Factor U and Me In, No Nay Mets, Fandom, and Jimmythetooth scratched. 

Seize the Grey is probably the one to beat. He was up the track in his Ellis Park debut on July 1. He shipped to Saratoga and caught a wet track July 29, and he dueled on the lead and graduated by 1 3/4 lengths. The $300k Arrogate colt drilled a local bullet for this engagement on Aug. 14 and should be all over the pace under Joel Rosario. The promising juvenile is conditioned by Wayne Lukas. 

Ship Cadet stalked and graduated in his turf sprint bow, and completed the exacta in his last two starts in the stakes ranks. He projects an inner tactical trip under Manny Franco. 

Antonio of Venice gets in from the also-eligible list and Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride. The New York-bred hit the board in his first two state bred dirt sprints at Belmont. He added blinkers in an open special weight dirt sprint at Saratoga on July 20, and he pressed outside and kicked away by 4 1/4 lengths as the strong favorite. 

Billy the Greek stalked from the inside post and graduated by a nose at Saratoga on July 21. That local sprint was originally scheduled for turf and run on a good main track. Luis Saez rides back for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. 

The Skidmore field is completed by Untroubled, Sebastian Run, Five o’ Somewhere, Go Otto Go, and El Grande O. 

Grade 2 Lake Placid – August 19 – Race 7 – 1 1/16 miles inner turf

Chad Brown seems to have this race surrounded. He has entered four horses including morning line favorite Surge Capacity. The Flintshire (GB) filly is 2-for-2 and she broke from the inside post in both of those races. She battled on the pace and graduated by a length and a half at Monmouth Park at 1 1/6 miles on turf on June 10. The show finisher was a next-out winner, and Surge Capacity stalked and scored in the local Lake George (G3) at one mile on yielding turf on July 21. She will most likely have to work out a different trip from an outer post under Joel Rosario in this spot. 

Aspray is the second choice on the line and her numbers continue to rise. She graduated in her off the turf bow as the favorite at Tampa Bay on Jan. 14, and clicked right back at the same venue at one mile on turf on March 22. She shipped to Pimlico and rallied from far back to win the Hilltop on May 19. She stalked and failed to quicken in an even fourth in the Belmont Oaks (G1) at a mile and a quarter last time. This shorter trip probably helps and she sports a local turf bullet for this. Flavien Prat stays put and she figures to save ground stalking the pace.  

Tax Implications stalked and romped in her flat mile turf bow at Monmouth Park last year. She was the favorite that day, and was the chalk again when running second in the Chelsea Flower. In her first start as a 3-year-old, she closed, led, and was second best in the Wild Applause, and rallied for the place in the local Lake George (G3) on yielding ground last time. This is her third start after a layoff and her speed ratings jumped up in her last two starts. 

Prerequisite is the final Brown trainee and I like her early-pressing versatility. She stalked and pounced in her maiden victory and wired the field in the Wonder Again (G2). She set a slow pace and finished second in the Belmont Oaks (G1) at 1 1/4 miles last time. Irad Ortiz Jr. knows her now and an outside stalking trip is expected. She improved her speed ratings in all four starts.   

Grade 1 Alabama – August 19 – Race 9 – 1 1/4 miles dirt 

Wet Paint is the favorite and she has captured four stakes races this year. She got up in the late stages in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga four weeks ago. Flavien Prat is 4-for-5 with her this year and she has the class and stamina to take this, but she probably won’t offer much wagering value. 

Todd Pletcher saddles three runners including Kentucky Oaks runner-up Gambling Girl. The New York-bred daughter of Dialed In has been targeting this race for months and can move forward after losing as the favorite in the Coaching Club American Oaks. 

Julia Shining is Pletcher’s second filly and she won the Demoiselle (G2) last year. She was a close third in the Suncoast and Ashland (G1) in her two starts this year. She was stuck on the also-eligible list in the Kentucky Oaks, and had a setback after that. This is her first start in more than four months. 

Chocolate Gelato won the Grade 1 Frizette on a wet track last fall. She stalked and faded in the BC Juvenile Fillies, and returned with an even fourth in the Jersey Girl at six furlongs on June 11. She is in too deep and I would not be surprised if they scratched in favor of an easier spot. 

Chad Brown entered a pair of fillies. Randomized exits a relatively fast front running victory in a 4-horse field in the local Wilton at one mile. She might try to wire the field under Joel Rosario. Her stablemate Fireline exits a flat fourth as the beaten favorite in the Delaware Oaks (G3). The early-pressing Juddmonte filly won back-to-back races against lesser company at one mile earlier this year.  

The field also includes Coaching Club American Oaks runner-up Sacred Wish, Black-Eyed Susan winner Taxed, and Ashland winner Defining Purpose. Sabra Tuff rounds out the Alabama entrants and she looks overmatched. 

I will break down this race in another post later today, and will include a video as well. Stay tuned!

Bolton Landing – August 20 – Race 4 – 5 1/2 furlongs turf

This 2-year-old filly turf sprint attracted six runners. Amidst Waves exits back-to-back turf sprint wins and is the lone stakes winner in the field. She captured the Colleen at Monmouth Park on July 29. Leading rider Irad Ortiz Jr. takes the call and the early-pressing filly is probably the one to beat. 

Gram is on the upswing for Christophe Clement. The New York-bred filly switched to turf second time out and rallied from far back to land the place. She showed improved positional speed and picked up her first career win at this course and distance on July 26. Joel Rosario stays put and she needs pace help. 

Crown Imperial stalked and scored in her dirt sprint bow at Horseshoe Indianapolis on May 31. She missed by a head in the Prairie Gold Lassie second time out, and switched to turf and did not have the smoothest trip in a show finish in the Colleen. Her new rider Tyler Gaffalione is enjoying a fine meet and John Ortiz is sending out live runners with limited starters at the current stand. 

The field also includes debut all-weather sprint winner Takemetothebeach, She’s Fire, a troubled fourth in the Colleen, and debut turf sprint winner Astonesthrowaway. The latter is a New York-bred filly now trained by Todd Pletcher. 

Are you interested in more Saratoga content? Check out the links below:

Saratoga week 1 stakes recaps

Saratoga week 2 stakes recaps

Saratoga week 3 stakes recaps

Saratoga week 4 stakes recaps

Saratoga week 5 stakes recaps