Fields coming together for Saratoga's opening weekend stakes
by NYRA Press Office
Stakes action at Saratoga Race Course will get off to a quick start with two graded stakes scheduled for Friday's Opening Day: the Grade 3, $150,000 Lake George and the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville.
The Lake George, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf, is likely to feature a full field led by Dale Romans trainee Sweeping Paddy, a 3 ½-length winner of the Grade 3 Regret on June 17 at Churchill Downs, and trainer Chad Brown's Grade 3 Wonder Again runner-up Fifty Five, who finished two lengths behind the recent Grade 1 Belmont Oaks winner, stablemate New Money Honey.
Defiant Honor and Bellavais, an improving pair from two-time Lake George-winning trainer Jimmy Toner, who won the 1996 edition with Memories of Silver, and again in 2011 with her daughter, Winter Memories, are likely for the race, as are Chubby Star, Dream Dancing, Happy Mesa, Party Boat, Proctor's Ledge, and Victory to Victory.
The potential field for the six-furlong Schuylerville is comprised of a very promising cast of 2-year-old fillies, with Barbara Minshall likely to send out My Dear winner Dream It Is, making her first start away from the Tapeta track at Woodbine, and trainer Christophe Clement expected to be represented by Astoria runner-up Best Performance.
Others probable for the race include Laudation, Limited View, Pacific Gale, Stainless, and Take Charge Paula. Mel's Gone Wild is possible.
The first Saturday of the meet will feature a pair of stakes races, the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford and the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana.
Contested at six furlongs on the main track, the Sanford is expected to attract a talented group of 2-year-olds, led by Tremont runner-up Direct Dial for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
Also likely for the Sanford are Admiral Jimmy, third in the Tremont, expected to make his second straight stakes start for the Todd Pletcher barn, Bal Harbour, Free Drop Billy, Nauti Buoy, and Psychoanalyze. Dak Attack and Serengeti are possible.
Chad Brown is expected to send a pair of serious contenders to lead a competitive edition of the Diana, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, with four-time Grade 1 heroine Lady Eli, who hasn't finished worse than second in 11 career starts, and Grade 1 Just A Game winner Antonoe.
Also expected for the Diana are Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Dickinson, who won three straight graded stakes this year, capped by a head victory in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland;Harmonize for Hall of Famer Bill Mott; and Grade 2 New York runner-up Quidura from the Graham Motion barn. Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey is possible to send My Impression, On Leave, and/or War Flag.
Sunday's featured race, the Grade 1, $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, has attracted the attention of Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman. From the barn of Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, the sophomore daughter of Quality Road has recorded back-to-back Grade 1 wins this spring, including a one-length victory in the Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day.
The CCA Oaks is expected to feature a rematch between Abel Tasman and the Mark Casee-trained Salty, fifth in the Kentucky Oaks and second by a length in the Acorn. Also probable for the race is Elate, a 5 ½-length winner in the June 15 Light Hearted Stakes at Delaware Park.Berned and Jamyson 'n Ginger are possible.
Opening week concludes with the $200,000 Caress for fillies and mares 4 and up at 5 ½ furlongs on the inner turf. Expected for the Caress are Blue Bahia for trainer Jason Servis; Susan Cooney's homebred Carolina Shag; Everything Lovely for the barn of Kathleen Demasi; Fair Point for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey; Graham Motion trainee Miss Ella; the Casse-trained Mississippi Delta; Paquita Coqueta for trainer Chad Summers;Pretty Perfection for trainer Kelly Breen; Rumble Doll for the Robert Falcone barn; Summer Reading for trainer Jimmy Jerkens; and Michelle Nevin trainee Ultimate Holiday.