Much has been made of the topsy turvy nature of the three year old class, making next Saturday’s Travers truly the three-year-old race of the year.
But if truth be known, the three year old filly class paints a just as murky picture. Let’s face it: The filly division has two leaders at present, depending on which resume you value most.
The acknowledged leader by most popular accounts is Pretty Mischievous. She had terrific winter campaign, won the most coveted divisional prize, the Kentucky Oaks, and inherited a G1 Test score, underscoring her versatility.
Then so did Wet Paint have a great winter, winning three stakes and last out took the nine furlong Coaching Club American Oaks in dramatic fashion at this meet, earning her first Grade 1 title.
A victory in the mile and a quarter Alabama would even the Grade 1 scales but more importantly a victory at the classic trip is as at least as season-defining as the Oaks and give her a divisional lead, on one ballot anyway.
With the exception of the ill fated Maple Leaf Mel, Wet Paint, on balance, is facing stiffer competition but, unlike turn-back Pretty Mischievous, two turns and an added furlong is a better fit than her rival had in the Test.
All she has to do no now is go out and prove it.
Up against her is Sacred Wish who had a CCAO victory in hand until the very last jump. Gambling Girl came within a neck of catching Pretty Mischievous in the Oaks but left her ‘A’ game in the stall on Coaching Club day.
Maybe Gambling Girl needed her first run since May’s first Friday and was Alabama dreamin’ on a summer’s day. Certainly her trainer is.
Todd Pletcher has made the Alabama a habit as he seeks his fifth score in this race and a natural triple, having won it the last two years with Nest and Malathaat.
Pletcher has three of the 10 entrants, saddling Julia Shining and the rabbit-like Chocolate Gelato, exiting a sprint, her season’s debut, and has not raced beyond 8.5 furlongs. The speedy Jose Ortiz will ride.
Chocolate Gelato and Gambling Girl both race for Repole Stable but are not coupled in the wagering. Why? Whatever the reason, this happenstance requires hard-swallowing.
The plan might work but ‘Gelato’s’ presence could also set the table for Wet Paint and Pletcher’s third entrant, Julia Shining, who also would benefit from an honest pace. Luis Saez is riding for Stonestreet Stable.
Wet Paint, Gambling Girl, Sacred Wish and Julia Shining are all extremely capable. Chad Brown has a formidable player in Randomized, a 9-2 early liner exiting a fast mile out of the Wilson Mile chute.
Come to think of it, this Alabama may not have the star quality going in compared to the glitzy colts lining up for the Travers but, to be sure, it’s one helluva warmup act.
ANOTHER CHAD TURF SHOW IN G2 LAKE PLACID
The Skinny: It’s no surprise that turf-centric-Chad will saddle the first four choices in this 1-1/16 miles for three-year-old fillies and a formidable foursome they are. Prerequisite (9-2) is fast but can finish, too, and has Irad in the boot.
Surge Capacity (3-1) is 2-for-2 lifetime, going from a maiden score to a Grade 3 score in the Lake George, showing class and courage, shooting up the fence for victory. No telling how good. Tax Implications (5-1) was beaten less than a length in two recent starts after losing ground entering the straight.
But the turnback and class relief from the G1 Belmont Oaks Invitational in which she lost ground throughout should suit Aspray (7-2) very well as a two-time winner going a mile. Her late run style fits the race shape nicely here, as does the presence of Flavien Prat.
We’ll take her straight is 3-1 or more is available and will key-box her in multiples with all her stablemates.
ALL BRANDY STAKES Race 8 [Turf Only]
The Skinny: The three early favorites in this 1-1/16 miles on the turf rate to dominate the tote and the running, in post order Downtown Katie (3-1), Thegirlfromireland (2-1) and Coconut Lake (9-5).
While the latter two rate the call with an edge on performance figures, both are still looking for the first win at today’s trip. Not so Downtown Katie whose three lifetime scores have all come at the distance.
‘Katie’ handles the course well, Jaime Rodriguez rides her likes he owns her and the price should be fair. Taking Downtown Katie to win at 5-2 or greater and key boxing exactas with her rivals above.
G1 DEL MAR OAKS Race 8
The Skinny: Couldn’t resist Grade 1 fillies going nine furlongs on turf: If Anisette (5-2) continues her forward progress and handles the additional furlong it will be a long afternoon for her rivals; she’s fastest on the Thoro-Graph scale and is 2-for-2 this side of the Atlantic–and this side of the country.
But Impact Warrior (4-1) is also forward looking and Phil D’Amato is profitable with runners making their second start for this outfit and Kent D. rides her back. Like the favorite, she, too, is bred for added ground.
Price shot Infinite Diamond (12-1) never had a clear shot through the lane in her DMR debut, has returned to work strongly, and gets a switch to Money Mike Smith. Be Your Best (4-1) also never had a chance in the G1 Belmont Oaks, hung wide while on the chase throughout, and picks up Juan Hernandez in her surfside debut.
We’re boxing exactas 5-6, making a 5.6 // 220.127.116.11.9 // 18.104.22.168.9 exacta and trifecta part-wheel, and will take Impact Warrior straight at 3-1 or greater.
this is a live column that will be updated throughout the weekend