The 3-year-old filly division will race at the classic distance of a 1 1/4 miles in the Grade 1 $600,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.
All but one of this year’s field of seven are Graded-Stakes Winners.
The Alabama is listed as race 10 on a card of 11 with a scheduled Post Time of 6:15. Here then is a look at this years field.
1. CRAZY BEAUTIFUL [ML 6-1] Trainer: Kenny McPeek. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. Since finishing 10th in the Kentucky Oaks, she is 2-for-2 with Victories in the Summertime Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita and the Delaware Oaks (G3) in the beginning of July at Delaware Park. McPeek brought her to Saratoga to prepare to run at the premier summer meeting. CRAZY BEAUTIFUL has an opportunity to prove just how good she is against an elite field going the classic distance.
2. WILL’S SECRET [ML 15-1] Trainer: Dallas Stewart. Jockey: Jon Court. She Won two Stakes in a row at Oaklawn Park in the winter with one of them in the Honeybee (G3) as part of the pace. Since then she was 3rd in a pair of Grade 1’s behind MALATHAAT and most recently she was a non-threatening 6th in the Indiana Oaks (G3).
3. CLAIRIERE [ML 6-1] Trainer: Steve Asmussen. Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. She broke her Maiden in her first start and since then she has taken on the best fillies while racing in six Grade 1 and 2 Stakes. The daughter of CURLIN showed up in every start with top three finishes every time except her 4th in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). She Won the Rachel Alexandra (G2) in February and most recently was 3rd in the CCA Oaks (G1) at The Spa behind MARACUJA and MALATHAAT after pressing the pace.
4. MARACUJA [ML 7-2] Trainer: Rob Atras. Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. This barn is red hot at Saratoga this summer, and got its biggest Win when this filly Won the CCA Oaks (G1) at odds of 14-1. Santana Jr. gave her a great ride as she sat behind while CLAIRIERE pressed MALATHAAT on the lead. When the time was right, she was ready to do battle down the stretch and was able to prevail by a head for a well-deserved Victory. In her six starts, she was off the board only once and that was a 7th in the Kentucky Oaks. It’s unlikely that she gets the same ideal trip as she did in the CCA Oaks.
5. PLAYED HARD [ML 15-1] Trainer: Phil Bauer. Jockey: Luis Saez. Bauer is having a good meet (for him) at Saratoga this summer with three Winners so far. This filly Won her last two starts while racing on the front end including a Maiden Victory at Churchill Downs in June and then in a nine-furlong Allowance at The Spa by almost five lengths. Despite her excellent current form, she faces a significant class challenge here.
6. MALATHAAT [ML 1-1] Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: John Velazquez. She went into the CCA Oaks (G1) with an unbeaten record that included a Victory in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Having drawn the inside Post-Position that day, she was sent to the lead where she was pressured throughout the nine furlongs. This (other) daughter of CURLIN battled down the stretch, but without a chance to relax earlier in the race, she was caught and lost by a head to MARACUJA. Pletcher has Won the Alabama twice, most recently in 2014 with STOPCHARGINGMARIA.
7. ARMY WIFE [ML 6-1] Trainer: Michael Maker. Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione. She has matured to become a multi-graded Stakes Winner as a 3-year-old while Winning 3 of 4 starts in 2021. Starting with an Allowance Win at Gulfsteam Park in March, she was then 3rd in a very tough edition of the Gazelle (G3) at Aqueduct. In the Black-Eyed Susan (G2), she rallied to Win by more than two lengths. She followed that with an easier Victory in the Iowa Oaks (G3). Trainer Mike Maker has given her two breezes at Saratoga as he looks to add another Win to his total, as the current leading trainer at the meet.
Summary: Several of the 3-year-old fillies are heading into the Alabama after outstanding performances in Graded Stakes, and that makes them worthy contenders.
After their stretch duel in the CCA Oaks, MALATHAAT and MARACUJA are the two fillies to beat in this race. BUT…that’s not how the Daily Racing Blog rolls, especially in the Graveyard Of Favorites.
We’ll look beyond beyond those two, who might be vulnerable in the Alabama. Michael Maker who trains ARMY WIFE, has been making all the right moves at Saratoga this summer.
It appears that Maker has been targeting this race for ARMY WIFE, giving her plenty of time between starts. Look for her to make the final Winning move down the stretch to get her first Grade 1 Victory…at a decent price.