Happy New York Stakes Day! 

It’s ladies day at the Spa with four filly and mare Graded Stakes on the card.  I’ll tackle the Acorn and the New York along with an All-Stakes Pick 4.  

Much of the turf racing during this festival will come down to a battle between Chad Brown and Charlie Appleby. You need determine what to do with the Appleby runners as a group. Do you think they will fire or will the North American based turf trainers led by Chad Brown hold their ground? Appleby has already had a strong year in the U.S. with five wins in Graded Turf Stakes from sixteen starters. Appleby looks loaded and while his horses do get over bet at times, you can’t leave them out of multi-race plays.    

Trivia Question: Today there are two Grade 1 turf  races (Just A Game, New York). How many days during the regular Saratoga meet are their multiple Grade 1 turf races? 

Race 11 – The New York – Grade I 

One Mile and Three Sixteenths on the Mellon Turf for Fillies and Mares  

Four Year Olds and Upward 

  1. McKulick: Finished a so-so fourth in the Sheepshead Bay where he was in the clear while stalking but was outkicked (88 Beyer). Won the Orchid two back (92 Beyer) going a mile and a half. Her best efforts have been three turn distance affairs, so this cutback may not help. Meh. 
  2. English Rose: Hasn’t missed the exacta in five career starts for Charlie Appleby. In her first North American start in the Jenny Wiley she had a ground saving trip but was outkicked by the leader in the lane (98 Beyer) who got away with a very soft pace. Gets some more ground today, which should help and she has shown she can handle American tracks. Lightly raced four year can still show improvement. Top Godolphin jock, William Buick, is in the irons. The Pick.
  3. Didia: Winner of the Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf (97 Beyer) came back with a strong performance in the Jenny Wiley (96 Beyer) but couldn’t track down the leader and was out finished by English Rose. Should be up on the pace. Should contend.
  4. Aspen Grove: Finished behind Sparkle Blue in both the Hillsborough at Tampa (90 Beyer) where she got a perfect trip but hung, as well as in the Modesty at Churchill (89 Beyer). Also finished behind Fev Rover in the E.P. Taylor last year.  Off the pace type will need to find a way against a salty group. Passing
  5. American Sonja: Joesph O’Brien ships across the pond off a Group 3 win at Longchamps in April in her first start of her four year old campaign.  This filly ran in the Saratoga Oaks last summer and was a strong second running over a very boggy turf course (90 Beyer). Appears to like cut in the ground. If it’s firm I don’t prefer her. Underneath player if it’s soft.
  6. Fev Rover: Castellano in the irons for this Mark Casse trainee who is making her first start since a tough trip in the Breeders’ Cup. Her 2023 campaign included Grade I wins in the Secretariat and the E.P. Taylor. Working over the all-weather surface at Woodbine in advance of today. Casse wins at a 12% clip first off of layoffs beyond 200 days. Not great, but this one has a win and a second off of two long layoffs. Using. 
  7. Neecie Marie: Enters here off a scintillating win in the Beaugay where Rosario made a patented last to first run in the lane to catch the leaders at the wire. She made up ten lengths in the final furlong as she inhaled the field. In the exacta for six of her seven turf races. Exotics.
  8. Be Your Best: Four year old takes on some tough older mares off a fourth place finish in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Stakes at Santa Anita (85 Beyer). Best chance is probably to try get on the front end and take them as far as she can go. Don’t see it.
  9. Sparkle Blue: This Motion trainee has been in good form, hitting the board in all three starts in 2023 with a win in the Hillsborough Stakes (90 Beyer). Versatile runner. But she looks like a Grade 3 type, and water is much deeper here today. Needs to be faster.
  10. War Like Goddess: This fantastic mare does well at the Spa with five exacta finishes in as many starts, but the mile and a half is her best distance. She was won multiple times against the boys and is the most accomplished runner in the field, but my concern is that this shorter distance is a bit sharp for her as she typically needs at least a mile and three-eighths to fully show her closing kick. She is very classy, but distance doesn’t suit. Use in exotics.  
  11. Star Fortress: In the Sheepshead Bay she was last of five runners then she tipped out in the lane and took dead aim but just missed in a three way photo (90 Beyer) where Royalty Interest got away with setting soft fractions. Two back she had no impact in the Jenny Wiley where she tried to run on late but was one paced. Will need to move forward to contend. Passing.
  12. Royalty Interest: Chad Brown enters this French bred mare off a win in the Sheepshead Bay where he took the field gate to wire on a very soft pace (90 Beyer). Not likely to be able to repeat that here today. Would be a surprise – but it’s Chad, so nothing is really a surprise.
  13. Surprisingly: Stalk and pounce type hits the board on a regular basis but hasn’t won since February 2023. Last out in the Modesty she broke poorly, was shuffled back, then she was full of run in the lane but was behind a wall of horses. Will need her best to contend. 

Picks 2-6-10-3 

Race 12 – The Acorn – Grade I 

One Mile and a Furlong on the Dirt for Three Year Old Fillies 

This is one heck of a rendition of the Acorn. The field includes the winners of the Kentucky Oaks, the Black Eyed Susan, the Eight Belles, and the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly. 

  1. Becky’s Joker: Cross entered in the Jersey Girl and it appears she will run there instead. Hasn’t raced since a disappointing performance in the Adirondack last August. Burst onto the scene when she won the Schuylerville at 21-1 in her first career race las July. Trainer Stat: Contessa has no winners from a small sample size off this type off layoff. Passing.
  2. Power Squeeze: Won the Gulfstream Park Oaks (92 Beyer) where she bested Ways and Means with an inside stalking trip as part of a four race win streak. In the Kentucky Oaks that win streak ended as she had an outside post and was wide. To her credit she kept running but didn’t make much of dent. Inside draw should set her up for a ground saving trip. Possible piece. 
  3. Leslie’s Rose: Winner of the Ashland Stakes by open lengths at Keeneland (95 Beyer) then came back in the Kentucky Oaks where she was ridden aggressively from the gate but was caught four wide and was done before they hit the stretch. Possible rebound candidate.
  4. Just F Y I: Two back in the Ashland she was a bit wide and couldn’t run down Leslie’s Rose (89 Beyer). In the Kentucky Oaks she had a decent trip from a wide post and loomed boldly but couldn’t catch Thorpedo Anna as they splashed home over the sloppy track (89 Beyer). Two bullet works over the Oklahoma track indicates she is ready. Win candidate.  
  5. My Mane Squeeze: New York bred dominated state bred stakes races while going shorter moved to open company two back and last out she won the Eight Belles on Derby Day over the sloppy Churchill track where she stalked four wide (88 Beyer). Consistent performer will need to move forward in her first nine furlong race. Don’t think so. 
  6. Where’s My Ring: Was a no show in the Kentucky Oaks as she had a trouble out of the gate and again turning for home – draw a line through that one. In the Gazelle she used her inside post to obtain a nice stalking position then tipped out in the lane to draw off by open lengths (90 Beyer). Hits the board.
  7. Regulatory Risk: In the Kentucky Oaks she ran a strong third as she came from further back to take a shot at the leaders (84 Beyer) in the stretch. Was decent in the Gazelle two back, but no match for Where’s My Ring in the final eighth (84 Beyer). Looking elsewhere.
  8. Gun Song: Won the Black Eyed Susan three weeks ago at Old Hilltop (88 Beyer) where she pressed the pace and then blew past the leader. Two back she was an OK fourth off a bad trip in the Gulfstream Oaks (79 Beyer). Look for her to be sent from this outside post. Know her early.
  9. Thorpedo Anna: Won four of five career starts for Kenny McPeek and enters here off a front end dominating performance in the Kentucky Oaks (96 Beyer). Two back she stalked in the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn and drew off to win by four (91 Beyer). Bullet work at Churchill on May 22nd. Will need to overcome this outside post, but she’s quick enough and should get in the clear or over to the two path. The Pick.

Picks  9-4-6-2 

All Stakes Pick 4: R9: 5,6,7 R10: 3,6,7 R11: 2,6,10  R12: 4,9 Ticket Cost $36 

Trivia Answer: There are no days during the regular Spa meet with multiple turf Grade I races. There are six Grade I turf races at the Summer Spa meet: the Diana, the Saratoga Derby, the Fourstardave, the Sword Dancer, the A.P. Smithwick (jumps), and the Jonathan Sheppard (jumps).