by Heather Pettinger
Chasing Yesterday, Summer Wind Equine’s homebred half-sister to American Pharoah, will make her stakes debut on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course as part of a field of 12 juvenile fillies for the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway at seven furlongs.
Carded as Race 10, the 127th running of the Spinaway – a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 2 at Churchill Downs – will join the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets as part of a live broadcast on NBCSN airing from 5:30-7 p.m. ET.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Chasing Yesterday won her July 28 unveiling in memorable fashion, stalking the pace before drawing off to a 4 ¼-length maiden special weight win under confident handling from Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith at Del Mar.
The chestnut Tapit filly is out of Littleprincessemma, who produced 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, as well as Grade 1-placed American Cleopatra and stakes-placed St. Patrick’s Day.
“She’s not a really big filly, but she’s starting to fill out. She worked well for this and she shipped well, so we’ll find out what she’s made of,” said Baffert by phone from California. “We’ve loved her from Day 1. She’s always shown that she’s special. Hopefully, she gets a nice, clean trip and it sets her up for something in the future.
“She doesn’t look like Pharoah. She probably looks more like her mother, but I see a lot of Tapit in her too,” he added. “Her disposition is like Pharoah’s though. She’s a sweetheart, very loveable, like Abel Tasman in that way. When she gets on the track though, she’s like Pharaoh – all racehorse. She just turns it on.”
Smith has the return call. The pair will break from post 7.
John Oxley’s Catherinethegreat will try to bookend the Saratoga meet following her 4 ¼-length victory in the Grade 3 Schuylerville on opening weekend. The gray Florida-bred by Uncaptured was a well-clear second in her debut and broke her maiden by 10 ¼ lengths over a sloppy and sealed track in June before taking the July 20 Schuylerville gate to wire for trainer Mark Casse.
“She caught a pretty rough track [in her debut], and the winner I think had two starts already and had run well,” said Casse. “That filly beat us pretty good, but I was real happy with our filly. She kept running. When she came back, I thought she would run well, but I didn't know she would win by 10 and an 80 Beyer.
“Then of course, when we came up here, a lot of people thought it was just that she liked mud [but] I felt pretty good about it. Last race, we had the one hole, and Jose said if she comes away from there running he was going for it, but I think she's rateable too.”
Catherinethegreat will be ridden by Jose Ortiz from post 4.
Six-time Spinaway winner Todd Pletcher will saddle a talented trio in Virginia Eloise, Guacamole, and Nonna Madeline.
Virginia Eloise was an impressive, five-length debut winner at Belmont in July before stepping up to the stakes level last time out the Grade 2 Adirondack on August 11. In that effort, the Curlin filly rank for Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano through the early going before putting in a late run to finish second by a half-length.
“She was a little too far back last time and she was a little green when the dirt hit her in the face. She did like a lot of inexperienced horses will do and she overreacted and backed up,” said Pletcher. “She got on track a little too late, but she closed well. She’s one that we feel like is bred to handle longer distances, so we are looking forward to stretching her out a little more. I think ultimately two turns will be her game.”
Guacamole was a wide-running third in the Adirondack following her Spa unveiling, where the Flat Out filly battled Super Simple down the lane to come up a nose short at the wire on July 26. She was elevated to the win following the disqualification of Super Simple for interference.
“I thought she ran a respectable race in the Adirondack,” Pletcher said. “She’s a hearty filly, maintains her weight well, so we’re looking to try her again.”
Nonna Madeline, by Candy Ride, is exiting a runner-up finish to Catherinethegreat in the Schuylerville, where she broke a step slow and was unable to catch the frontrunner.
“She didn’t get away well, but she made a solid move and finished a nice second, and we’ve been pointing for this since then,” said Pletcher.
Virginia Eloise will have the services of Castellano from post 3. Guacamole will break from post 8 with Luis Saez aboard, while Nonna Madeline will be ridden from post 5 by Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
Rounding out the field for the Spinaway are Restless Rider, a game 11 ¼-length winner of the Debutante on June 30 at Churchill; runaway Miss Ohio heroine Baby Nina; maiden winner Sippican Harbor, who graduated on August 12 at Saratoga by an eye-catching 17 lengths in an off-the-turf maiden special weight; as well as Cassies Dreamer, Bella Ciao, Reflect, and Love My Honey.