• Albertrani-trained True Blue Nation, Souper Speedy target opening day at Saratoga; fields take shape for Friday’s stakes
• Fields coming together for Saratoga opening Saturday & Sunday stakes
“She has a work coming up, maybe tomorrow or the next day, and then we’ll make a final decision,” said Shirreffs. “It’s been a while since she has run.”
Eblouissante, who will carry the colors of the late Eric Kronfeld, is unbeaten in two starts but hasn’t raced since clearing the first allowance condition on January 17 at Santa Anita. In April, the 4-year-old departed California when Shirreffs brought a string of runners to New York.
“After she arrived here she has started to fill out,” said Shirreffs. “She has grown a lot and has put on a significant amount of weight, so I’m really happy with the way she has developed over the last month. She looks strong. I think time is the most important ingredient in a horse’s development. Their bodies need a chance to catch up.”
By waiting for the Saratoga meet, Shirreffs will get to run Eblouissante around two turns as almost all of Belmont Park’s route races are contested around a single turn. Both the Shuvee and the July 22 optional claimer are scheduled to be run at 1 1/8 miles.
“The dynamics of the two-turn races are entirely different from one-turn races,” said Shirreffs. “I love two-turn races and prefer them to one-turn races, personally. I think they give horses a chance to get into the gate, go into the turn, relax, find position. There’s a chance to use a few different gears.”
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Trainer Tom Albertrani will be well-represented in the opening day stakes at Saratoga Race Course, with impressive maiden winner True Blue Nation pointing toward Friday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies and Souper Speedy, declared the winner of the Jaipur on June 7, targeting the Grade 3, $100,000 James Marvin.
Owned by St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds, True Blue Nation was 17-1 as a front-running, 5 ½-length winner in her debut on June 21 at Belmont Park. An $85,000 yearling purchase, the Bluegrass Cat filly completed the five furlongs in :58 1/5.
“She was very impressive first time out,” said Albertrani. “Normally, I don’t really crank on the 2-year-olds to come out running first time out, but if they do, all the better. I would always expect a better performance second time around, so we were very pleased with that effort first time out.”
Albertrani, who described True Blue Nation as a “very, very quiet” filly, said he was pleasantly surprised by her performance.
“If you’d looked at her workouts before the race, you’d never get any indication that she would come out with that kind of speed,” he said. “She was one of two fillies of mine in the race, and the other filly [Aldero, who was fifth] had been working a little better. In the afternoons, you don’t know what to expect, so I was very, very happy to see her come out running like that. Let’s hope she’ll take another step forward.”
Also pointing to the six-furlong Schuylerville, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, are Aibhilin, Bahnah, Brazen Persuasion, Designer Legs, Respectful Wishes, and possibly Silver Valley.
A 4-year-old Indian Charlie colt, Souper Speedy has been first, second or third in all but one of his seven lifetime starts. In two stakes starts, he finished a head behind stablemate Big Screen in the off-the-turf Jaipur and was moved up after being interfered with in the stretch, and in the 2011 Grade 2 Remsen he was second by three-quarters of a length to O’Prado Again.
“He’s has two good races in a row since he’s been away,” said Albertrani of Souper Speedy, who was off from November of 2012 until April. “The horse has come back very well, so this race looks like an ideal spot.”
Likely as well for the seven-furlong James Marvin are Jaguar Paw and Love to Run, first and third, respectively, in the Three Coins Up; Hello Lover, most recently third in the Donald Levine Memorial at Parx Racing; Associate, who lost his rider in the Grade 3 General George in February last time out; the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Laurie’s Rocket; Politicallycorrect, third in the Jaipur, and Strapping Groom, winner of the Lion Cavern overnight stakes last time out. Right to Vote is questionable.
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Saratoga will conduct its first Grade 1 of the meet on Saturday when 3-year-old fillies compete in the Grade 1, $300,000 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks. Heading the list of probable runners is Princess of Sylmar, who hasn’t raced since winning the Kentucky Oaks. Also probable are her stablemate Unlimited Budget, who was third in the Oaks and sixth against males in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, as well as Cue the Moon, Marathon Lady, and My Happy Face. Let Me Entertain U is possible.
If Eblouissante competes in the Shuvee on the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks undercard, she likely will face Authenticity, who was second in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap after winning the Grade 2 La Troienne, Grade 3 Allaire DuPont heroine Summer Applause, and Moon Philly, Royal Lahaina, and Sea Island. Flashy American and Lady Samuri also are under consideration.
The $200,000 Sanford for 2-year-olds on Sunday is likely to serve as a rematch between Grade 3 Bashford Manor top two Debt Ceiling and Hollywood Talent. Jake’s Magic Hat and Wired Bryan are also probable for the six-furlong race.