Brown, Watsdachances Diving into Familiar Waters in G3 Lake George
By Phil Janack | 07/20/2013 05:06 PM ET
Eleven months after making her successful stateside debut at Saratoga Race Course, Watsdachances returns to familiar surroundings looking to regain her form.
Trained by Mechanicville, N.Y. native Chad Brown for owners Michael Kisber and Bradley Thoroughbreds, Watsdachances aims for her first victory of 2013 in Wednesday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Lake George on the inner turf.
The 1 1/16-mile Lake George for 3-year-old fillies will be the third start of the year for Watsdachances, an Irish-bred daughter of Diamond Green who is winless thus far, having run fourth by 2 ¼ lengths in the Grade 3 Appalachian at Keeneland and third by two lengths in the Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont Park.
After being imported from Ireland, Watsdachances went 2-for-3 in 2012 for Brown, winning the $100,000 P.G. Johnson at Saratoga on August 29 and the Grade 3 Miss Grillo at Belmont before running a strong second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita.
“She hasn’t really picked up where she left off in her 2-year-old year with that good second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup,” Brown said. “Her first two races of the year weren’t bad, but they were subpar for her standards. She was training well going into both of those races, and she had no excuse in either one not to win.
“I think she’s training a little bit better [in] her last couple of works. It’s time for her to step up and pick up where she left off, being really the top 2-year-old turf filly in the country, as she proved in the Breeders’ Cup. I’m looking for that kind of a race out of her in the Lake George.”
Since arriving in Saratoga in mid-June this year, Watsdachances has had six local works for the Lake George, including a pair of half-mile breezes on the turf. Her most recent, in 50.89 seconds, came on opening day, July 19.
“That was part of the thinking,” Brown said, “seeing that she’s off form just a touch, to get her up to Saratoga early, which we did. Maybe she thrives in this environment. It may have worked. Her coat’s really come around, and she looks fabulous in the morning. It could be a Saratoga thing for her to get her back on track.”
Favored in each of her two starts to open the year, Watsdachances is the 4-1 third choice on the morning line in the Lake George. She will leave from the rail with Javier Castellano aboard.
The 2-1 morning-line favorite in the Lake George is Tapicat, a winner of three straight races who is unraced since her victory in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks on February 2, and Kitten’s Dumplings, a multiple graded stakes winner who took the Grade 3 Regret last time out and who is 5-2 on the morning line.
With Hall of Famer Mike Smith riding, Tapicat will leave from post position 2 while Kitten’s Dumplings, who was second to that rival in the Florida Oaks, breaks from post position 6 with Joel Rosario in the irons.
Two horses will be making their stakes debut in the Lake George: promising Darley Stable homebred Midnight Watch and undefeated Blossom’s Trail, the latter making her first start for trainer Gary Contessa.
Blossom’s Trail, a bay daughter of Purge, was also entered in the $100,000 My Princess Jess overnight stakes on July 20 but was scratched out of that race.
“I figured we could be 20-1 in a 12-horse field, or 30-1 in a six-horse field on Wednesday, and it’s graded,” Contessa said. “You never know. She’s not a bad filly. She’ll be the only undefeated filly to ever go off at such high odds in a stake. She’s been led over there three times, and she’s won three times. I do expect a miracle. I expect to win it but, again, I don’t know that I’m going win it. We’re going to find out what she’s made of, but she’s done everything right so far.”
Blossom’s Trail broke her maiden first time out on March 1 and came back to win an optional claimer four weeks later, both at Gulfstream Park, for trainer Ralph Nicks. Contessa claimed her for $65,000 on behalf of Wounded Warrior Stables following her latest victory June 20 at Belmont Park.
“You’ve got to love a horse that wins. She wins,” Contessa said. “You can’t go wrong claiming a horse that does nothing but win. She’s my kind of horse.”
At 15-1 on the morning line, Blossom’s Trail drew post position 3 under Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado.
Midnight Watch takes a two-race win streak into the Lake George for Darley and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Eleventh of 12 following a tardy start in her February 1 debut at Gulfstream Park, the Stormy Atlantic filly went gate-to-wire in maiden and allowance victories, both against older horses, 25 days apart in May at Belmont Park.
“She’s won her last two, and she’s a nice filly,” McLaughlin said. “She had little issues [as a 2-year-old] but she’s done very well this year. Her first time out she had a terrible break and was in all kinds of trouble; the next two times, she broke and was gone. She’s a very fast filly.
“It just took a little bit of time before we got her back in [a race],” said McLaughlin of Midnight Watch, 5-1 from post position 5. “She’s doing well. It’s a tough race, but we’re all right. They’ve got to catch us.”
Also in the Lake George field are the undefeated Maximova, who improved to 3-0 with a head victory in the $90,000 Bit of Whimsy Stakes at Belmont on June 16, Fab Flowers, and Skyfall, who was entered main track only.
The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 Lake George: