Secret Message attempts fifth stakes victory in $85K Perfect Sting
by Ryan Martin
A compact field of six fillies and mares will go into the starting gate for Friday's $85,000 Perfect Sting going 1 1/16-miles over the inner turf at Saratoga Race Course.
Trainer Graham Motion will send out Secret Message, who arrives off a sixth-place finish beaten only three lengths to Rushing Fall in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley on July 11 at Keeneland. Owned by Sol Kumin and Jason Monteleone's Madaket Stable, Heider Family Stable, ERJ Racing, Elayne Stables Five and Steven Bouchey, Secret Message boasts the most overall victories in the Perfect Sting field with six, three of which took place against graded stakes company.
The dark bay 5-year-old daughter of Hat Trick made her 2020 debut off a seven-month layoff with a victory in the Grade 3 Mint Julep at Churchill Downs, where she pulled off a 25-1 upset.
"She's such a nice mare," said Scott Heider of Heider Family stables. "Patience has really paid off. We ran her in the Grade 1 at Keeneland and we knew it was going to be a tall order to go up against Rushing Fall, but she ran a bang up race there. We saw this race and thought it would be a good spot. Obviously, winning at Saratoga is never easy, but she's been training so well for Graham at Fair Hill."
A graded stakes winner at ages 3, 4 and 5, Secret Message won the 2018 Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington Park during her sophomore campaign and won the Grade 2 Nassau over a yielding turf at Woodbine last year.
Heider said he is most intrigued by how much Secret Message has developed both physically and mentally.
"She's matured physically from 4 to 5. She's really made a physical difference. She is a much bigger, stronger mare. She looks gorgeous, but mentally she's there also," Heider said.
Secret Message has displayed a range of tactics, winning from a stalking position, as well as from far off the pace.
"Saratoga is interesting because sometimes when you think there's a lot of pace on paper, the pace doesn't materialize and when there isn't pace on paper, the pace does materialize," Heider said. "We'll see how it plays out, but on paper it doesn't look like there's much speed. She's got several gears and if she needs to lay somewhat close to the pace, she can do it. That's been probably the most interesting thing going from age four to five. When you want her, she's there. That's what make good horses, good horses."
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will be aboard Secret Message as she leaves from post 7.
Trainer Chad Brown, who won last year's Perfect Sting with subsequent Champion Turf Female Uni, will saddle Peter Brant's Cafe Americano as well as multiple stakes-placed Altea for Swift Thoroughbreds, Madaket Stables and Doheny Racing Stable.
Cafe Americano, a bay daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, has not raced since finishing fourth, beaten three lengths to stablemate Cambier Parc in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on October 12 at Keeneland. Following victories in her first two career starts, Cafe Americano was sixth in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks before winning the Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington Park.
Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. will pilot Cafe Americano from post 1.
Altea has placed four times against stakes company but is still looking for her first career stakes win. Fourth in the Jenny Wiley last out, the French-bred daughter of Siyouni was a close third in her North American debut finishing a head to Andina Del Sur in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks in March 2018. Her lone victory in the United States took place in November, where she defeated winners over the inner turf at Aqueduct, including eventual graded stakes winner Mean Mary by 2 ¼ lengths.
In addition to the Florida Oaks, Altea has also acquired black type with runner up finishes in the Grade 3 Lake George in July 2018, as well as the Grade 3 Endeavor at Tampa Bay Downs on February 8 and the Tom Benson Memorial on March 21 at Fair Grounds.
Altea will leave from post 4 under jockey Joel Rosario.
Trainer Christophe Clement will attempt his seventh stakes victory of the meet when he saddles the consistent Feel Glorious for owners Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Tango Uniform Racing.
Bred in Great Britain by Mrs. E.C. Roberts, the daughter of Bated Breath hit off the board in her last five starts, all against stakes company, including two third place efforts in the Grade 2 New York on June 27 at Belmont Park and the Grade 3 Matchmaker at Monmouth Park. She capped off her 3-year-old campaign last year with a victory over a yielding Aqueduct turf in the Winter Memories on December 7.
Jockey Junior Alvarado will ride Feel Glorious from post 5.
Juddmonte Farms' Chaleur is the only horse in the field that arrives off a victory, which took place in an optional claiming event going one mile on July 5 at Belmont Park.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the bay daughter of Dansili will be making her second start in the United States and was previously trained in her native Great Britain for Ralph Beckett.
Chaleur will break from post 6 under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano.
Rounding out the field is Piedi Bianchi, who was a recent third in the Grade 2 Ruffian at Belmont Park.
Trained by Carlos Martin, the Indiana-bred daughter of Overanalyze won the Correction on March 14 over the main track at Aqueduct two starts back. Three times placed at the Grade 1 level during her 2-year-old campaign, Piedi Bianchi's lone start on grass was in January 2019, where she finished sixth in the South Beach at Gulfstream Park.
Jockey David Cohen will ride Peidi Bianchi from post 2.
Another Broad [post 3] has been entered for main track only.
The Perfect Sting is named in honor of Stronach Stables' nine-time graded stakes winner, who won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 2000 for trainer Joe Orseno. The daughter of Red Ransom was named 2000 Champion Turf Filly, winning five graded stakes races including the Diana at the Spa.
The Perfect Sting is slated as Race 4 on Friday's 10-race card, which offers a first post of 1:10 p.m. Eastern. Saratoga Live will present daily television coverage of the 40-day summer meet on FOX Sports and MSG Networks. For the complete Saratoga Live broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.
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