Nine 3-year-old fillies are entered in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga in what will probably be their only start going a mile and a quarter.
Not only is the 10-furlong distance missing from the past performances of these contenders, but so is a Grade 1 Victory. Five of the fillies have Won a Graded Stakes already, and a few of them did race in the Kentucky Oaks and/or the Coaching Club American Oaks earlier this season.
The Alabama is Race 10 on a card of 11 with a scheduled Post Time of 5:59 pm.
Here then is a brief look at the field:
1. DUNBAR ROAD [ML 8-5] Trainer: Chad Brown. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. This gal lived up to the talent that she flashed last spring when she Won the Mother Goose (G2) last time out at Belmont Park. After that victory, Brown was convinced that she could get the distance here. She was a big favorite in her all four of her starts and will be once again as the trainer seeks his first Victory in the Alabama.
2. LADY APPLE [ML 6-1] Trainer: Steve Asmussen. Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. This Asmussen trainee has a pair of Grade 3 Victories on her resume, with the most recent Win coming last month in the Iowa Oaks and the other in the Fantasy at Oaklawn Park back in April. In between those starts, she ran third in the Kentucky Oaks. Since breaking her maiden in February in Arkansas, she has won four of five starts.
3. AFLEET DESTINY [ML 30-1] Trainer: Uriah St. Lewis. Jockey: Anthony Salgado. Since this filly broke her Maiden in November at Parx Racing, trainer St. Lewis has sought her next Victory in stakes company. She finished 2nd in the Demoiselle (G2) last December, but as of late hasn’t made it in the money.
4. CHAMPAGNE ANYONE [ML 10-1] Trainer: Ian Wilkes. Jockey: Chris Landeros. She beat DUNBAR ROAD in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) on the road to the Kentucky Oaks. She had a tough trip in that race, finishing 4th by seven lengths. She came back in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga with a very similar performance. Hard to know what to expect from her.
5. STREET BAND [ML 10-1] Trainer: Larry Jones. Jockey: Sophie Doyle. This trainer has always been adept with the fillies, and he got this one to the Winner’s circle in the Indiana Oaks (G3) last month, which gave her a second Graded Stakes Victory to go with the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).
6. ULELE [ML 8-1] Trainer: Brad Cox. Jockey: Joel Rosario. Although she has yet to Win a Stakes race, her two tries resulted in runner-ups in the the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Iowa Oaks. Both were just a half-length behind the top spot. She is definitely one who wants to race on or just behind the early pace. She has trained smartly at Churchill Downs since the Iowa Oaks and will come with higher odds than most of the field as she tries to stretch her speed.
7. POINT OF HONOR [ML 5-2] Trainer: George Weaver. Jockey: Javiar Castellano. Her biggest Win came in the Black-Eyed Susan on Preakness weekend when she rallied from off the pace. The only time she missed the board came in the Gulfstream Park Oaks when she ran 4th. The daughter of CURLIN has the breeding to get the distance.
8. OFF TOPIC [ML 10-1] Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: Manuel Franco. Although this daughter of STREET SENSE has just a Maiden Victory to her credit, she competed in Graded Stakes in her three most-recent starts and has a pair of 3rd place finishes to her credit. She looks like one that should handle the distance and prefers to run from off the pace.
9. KELSEY’S CROSS [ML 15-1] Trainer: Patrick Biancone. Jockey: Rajiv Maragh. Up to this point in her career she has raced only on the turf with just a Maiden Claiming Win. She does show three 3rd place finishes in a row in Stakes races on the grass going long. A Grade 1 is a very tough place to trust a filly making her main track debut, and be successful.
Summary: It’s tough to go against the favorite, DUNBAR ROAD, in here. Since she and her stablemate GUARANA emerged in this division, Chad Brown did not hesitate to say that DUNBAR ROAD was the one who would handle the mile and a quarter distance. Brown’s record at Saratoga and in big races will certainly make her the Post Time favorite.
It seems clear that the betting public will go for DUNBAR ROAD and POINT OF HONOR making them both very chalky plays in all the wagering pools.
The Daily Racing Blog never shies away from trying to beat the chalk. Especially at the Graveyard Of Favorites.
Therefore, given the expected Value, along with their overall ability and running style, DRB likes ULELE and STREET BAND to pull off the Alabama upset on Saturday.
After-all the point of betting a Value-based horse is to choose one not far off favorites in ability, or even equal to them.
So our play will be: a Trifecta Key using the #5 and #6 on top of the 1-2-7. So the ticket will read: 5-6 with 1-2-5-6-7. An Exacta Box using the 1-5-6-7. As well as Win bets on the 5 and 6.