Perfect Alibi looks to continue Saratoga success in G1 Spinaway
by Brian Bohl
Tracy Farmer's Perfect Alibi has already won a graded stakes this summer at Saratoga Race Course and will look to notch her first Grade 1 victory on the historic track as part of a seven-horse field of juvenile fillies in the 128th running of the $350,000 Spinaway at seven furlongs on Sunday.
Perfect Alibi closed strong to post a half-length victory in the Grade 2 Adirondack on August 4 at 6 ½ furlongs. The daughter of Sky Mesa burst onto the scene on May 16 at Churchill Downs with a 9 ½-length score in a five-furlong sprint and took a step up in class next out, battling Maryanorginger before finishing second by a half-length in the 5 ½-furlong Astoria on June 6 at Belmont Park.
Purchased for $220,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton New York Sale, Perfect Alibi has already found success across Union Turnpike, earning a personal-best 74 Beyer Speed Figure for her Adirondack win. Trainer Mark Casse said she has thrived on the track, including two strong works this month, with her last a four-furlong breeze in 48.66 seconds on August 24.
"It's so important here. Some horses handle it and some don't," Casse said. "I think she's bigger and stronger now than she was a few weeks ago, so she's definitely training and moving forward.
"She's doing as well, if not better than she was, heading into the Adirondack, so I expect her to run back," he added. "I think the seven furlongs will be a plus. There might be a few new shooters in the field."
All three of Perfect Alibi's starts have seen her stay off the early speed before closing strong. Casse said that style plays to her strength.
"She doesn't have the speed to be on the lead," said Casse, who won the 2016 Spinaway when Pretty City Dancer dead-heated with Sweet Loretta. "I would hope for her to be about midpack like she was the last time."
Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard for the Adirondack, will have the return call from post 3.
Jeff Drown's Risky Mischief was an impressive debut winner on July 31 at Saratoga, wiring a 10-horse field by 7 ½ lengths in a six-furlong maiden on a fast main track. The Into Mischief filly has been training forwardly at Saratoga since, including a four-furlong work in 49.69 seconds on August 25 over the Oklahoma training track.
Risky Mischief, purchased for $350,000 at last year's Saratoga sale, is trained by Jeremiah Englehart.
Jose Ortiz, looking to wrap up the Angel Cordero, Jr. award for the meet's top rider, will be in the irons from post 6.
Frank's Rockette made a strong account of herself in finishing second as the beaten favorite to Perfect Alibi in the Adirondack and will get a chance at a rematch, drawing post 2 with Julien Leparoux on the return call.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Frank's Rockette is one of four of the race's seven entrants to be sired by Into Mischief. Owned by Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, she made a strong impression with an 8 ¾-length win in her debut on June 21 at Churchill before jumping in class in the Adirondack.
OXO Equine's Mundaye Call, second in her debut at six furlongs on August 11 at the Spa, will step up to stakes company for the first time. Trainer Don Chatlos saw the Into Mischief filly lead an eight-horse field until Lotta Ott beat her out in the final jumps to win by a head.
Since that hard-charging effort, Mundaye Call has been training at Saratoga, including a five-furlong work in 1:00.51 on the main track on August 25. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will pick up the mount, breaking from the inside post.
Figure of Speech, backed by Saratoga leading owner Klaravich Stables and meet-leading trainer Chad Brown, made her first start a successful one at the Spa with a 5 ½-length win on July 31, earning a 70 Beyer in a 5 ½-furlong sprint. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will ride again from post 5.
Rounding out the field is Shippy, third last out in the Grade 3 Schuylerville on July 11 at Saratoga, for trainer Katherine Ritvo [post 7, Luis Saez]; and Miss Peppina, a debut winner on July 3 at Belmont before running fourth in the Adirondack for trainer Gary Gullo [post 4, Joel Rosario].
The Spinaway, first run in 1881, has numerous Hall of Famers among its all-time winners list, including Maskette (1908), Top Flight (1931) and Ruffian (1974). Carded as Race 11 on the 12-race card, the Spinaway has a 5:50 p.m. Eastern post time. First post will go off at 12:30 p.m.