Saratoga Preview: G1 CCA Oaks / G3 Caress
Happy Coaching Club American Oaks Day!
Last year’s rendition of the Coaching Club American Oaks saw Marajuca defeat Malathaat and Clairiere in a thrilling stretch run. This year’s renewal features another big time showdown between Todd Pletcher’s Nest and D. Wayne Lukas’s Secret Oath. Both of these filles were last seen in Triple Crown events where Nest ran an excellent second to Mo Donegal in the Belmont Stakes and Secret Oath was a good fourth in the Preakness.
In the Caress Stakes we get five runners out of the Intercontinental Stakes at Belmont including the winner Caravel, who is back to defend her title in this race.
Race 5 – The Coaching Club American Oaks – Grade I
One Mile and One Furlong on the Dirt, For Three Year Old Fillies
Secret Oath got the better of Nest in the Kentucky Oaks where they completed the exacta. Today we get the rematch as those two fillies lead the line for this compact field of five.
- Butterbean: It took six races for her to break her maiden but since then she has been a different filly – especially when Bute was administered for the last two efforts. Those two races were wins in the Panthers and the Iowa Oaks (89 Beyer) at Prairie Meadows where she made a long sustained drive to sweep by the field. McPeek brings her back just two weeks after that Iowa Oaks performance. NYRA does not allow the administration of Bute (which is an analgesic) and Lasix also comes off. Can she outrun Nest and Secret Oath in the stretch? Doubtful.
- Society: Up and comer for Asmussen who is undefeated in three career starts. Last out in the Monomoy Girl Stakes at Churchill she successfully stretched out to two turns, was in front all the way, and was game to repel a serious challenge in the stretch while in tight on the rail (77 Beyer). Likely pace setter and she may get loose on the lead. She’ll need to be faster – but is eligible for improvement in only her fourth career start. Could hang on for a piece.
- Nest: Last out in the Belmont Stakes she was a very good second (95 Beyer) for Todd Pletcher. In reality she was just as good as the Belmont winner, but she got stuck behind horses at the top of the stretch and that cost her a couple of lengths. Two back she was second to Secret Oath in the Kentucky Oaks with a 91 Beyer with a similar inside trip that resulted in traffic issues that probably made the difference. Should be able to sit a trip behind the early speed and get first run. Needs to avoid traffic issues – small field may assist her. The Pick.
- Nostalgic: Mott trained filly was last seen finishing a distant 10th in the Kentucky Oaks where she found trouble and was never a factor. Two back she won the Gazelle at the Big A going today’s nine furlong distance (86 Beyer). She was determined that day and made a sustained stretch run to get through on the rail. If you throw out the Oaks outing she could contend with a step forward from the Gazelle performance. Upset candidate.
- Secret Oath: Lukas trained filly enters here off a very good fourth in the Preakness (95 Beyer) where she was pinched back early, dropped back to last, made steady progress on the outside but was left with too much to do. She was impressive in winning the Kentucky Oaks (94 Beyer) two back where she swung five wide and won by a comfortable two lengths after stalking the pace. She’s won all three stakes races against three year old fillies this year – with her two loses coming to the colts in the Preakness and the Arkansas Derby. Gets a stern test today. Using on all tickets.
Race 10 – The Caress Stakes – Grade III
Five and a Half Furlongs on the Mellon Turf Course
For Fillies and Mares Four Years Olds and Upward
Turf Sprints at Saratoga
The Caress Stakes was elevated to Grade III status last year and Saratoga now features three graded turf sprints. That’s quite a change from 2005 when turf sprints began at Saratoga. In that first meet only 11 turf sprints were contested at the Spa. By comparison the initial 2022 Saratoga condition book includes 143 races – 20% of those races are turf sprints.
Last year 59 turf sprints were run at Saratoga. That might not sound like a lot – but only 64 dirt route races were run at Saratoga in 2021.
Let that sink in – there were almost as many turf sprints run at Saratoga last year as two turn dirt races. Once viewed as gimmick races, turf sprints have become an integral part of racing at the Spa.
- Caravel: She’s back to defend her title in this race. She went a bit off form last Fall but has returned this year for new connections with two wins from three outings. Last out in the Intercontinental Stakes at Belmont she got to the lead early and kept right on going for the win (90 Beyer). May have to work out an inside out trip given the inside draw. She is five for eight at this distance. Dangerous.
- Miss J McKay: Clement enters this stalker off a disappointing eighth in the Intercontinental. That day was wide down the back side and loomed five wide as they turned for home but flattened out and was no threat. Two back she stalked the pace and kicked away from them all at the eighth pole to win the License Fee by three lengths (96 Beyer). Could be live.
- Star Devine: Winner of the Galway last year over this course has placed in both her efforts this year for Jorge Abreu. In the Intercontinental she stalked the pace but couldn’t run down Caravel – who she faces again today. Will need to figure out a way to turn the tables on that one while going shorter. That will be tough.
- Bout Time: Cherie DeVaux has a nice filly who is three for four this year with the lone loss by a head. Last out she won her stakes debut in the Goldwood Stakes at Monmouth besting today’s foe Robin Sparkles while earning a 96 Beyer. She should be able to get a similar stalking trip today as there is plenty of early speed. Talented newcomer to Stakes ranks. The Pick.
- Tobys Heart: Last out in the Intercontinental at Belmont she broke poorly and while she made up some ground she was never really in the race. Two back she won an overnight stakes a Churchill (94 Beyer), got spun six wide and showed a good turn of foot to get her nose down on the wire. Stalk and pounce type who is undefeated at five and half furlongs (4 for 4) and has won over the track. Can pick up the pieces for a minor award.
- Robin Sparkles: This speed ball goes one way – very fast early. Last out in the Goldwood Stakes as Monmouth she was run down by Bout Time in the stretch after setting blistering fractions. She was caught from behind in both her Spa efforts last summer. She will need to show significant improvement in the third race of her form cycle. She’s done it before, but I don’t care for the set up here. She’s got speed drawn to her outside and inside and she’ll be under pressure from the jump. That’s not typically a winning formula. Passing.
- Lady Edith: Outran her 35-1 odds in the Intercontinental last out first out for the Clement barn with a nice stalking trip and she was live in the stretch but couldn’t catch Caravel. You won’t get 35-1 today but she should get some speed in front of her that Trevor McCarthy can use as a target. Second race for the Clement barn and second off the layoff – potential for improvement. Underneath player.
- Souper Sensational: You might remember this one from her second place finishes last year when she was sprinting on the dirt in the Test and the Prioress. Mark Casse moved her to the turf for her first 2022 effort at Woodbine in June where she was on the lead but was caught in the final jumps. This versatile filly has done a little bit of everything, she’s been productive on the dirt and poly track, and she looks like she can handle the turf as well. She doesn’t need to improve much to contend in her second turf start. Longshot potential.
- Kept Waiting: Moves back to the turf for Robert Falcone after making five dirt starts this year – and getting two wins along the way. Was on the turf last year and had some success mainly against state breds. The water is significantly deeper here. Should be part of the early hot pace. She would be a surprise.
- Fouette: Linda Rice has taken over training for this filly as she makes her first turf attempt after thirteen career starts. She has a couple of bullet works on the dirt coming into this one. She is speedy and draws on the far outside, so she will likely to be sent from the drop. Trainer Stat: Linda Rice is two for forty-seven (4%) going dirt to turf in the past two years. Up against it.