Sadly, Saratoga’s sum season is almost over for another year but, as ever, the course will go out with its traditional Saturday bang with a quality card full of top quality action including two grade ones. With a grade one at Saratoga and one at Del Mar along with several other valuable races elsewhere, the 2 year olds take a large percentage of the centre stage today.
We start with Saratoga’s Spinaway Stakes, a seven furlong grade 1 for 2 year olds over 7 furlongs worth a cool $350,000. Todd Pletcher, who has won this race 5 times and provided the winner of last year’s renewal, looks to hold a major hand with the first two in the Morning Line betting in Sweet Loretta (5/2) and Cherry Lodge (2/1).
Some might be slightly surprised that Sweet Loretta was not given favouritism given she is the only graded stakes winner but it must be remembered that Cherry Lodge was a hugely impressive winner of her only race and the performance earned a Beyer of 89. This figure is comfortably the highest in the field.
John Velazquez must have been impressed as he has deserted Sweet Loretta to take the ride on Cherry Lodge. However, this is definitely not a two horse race as the field includes so many lightly raced fillies with immense potential for improvement. For example Runway Doll has had the one race and she ran out the winner by 13 ½ lengths. Who knows what she might be capable of? Whatever happens, it will be fascinating to track the careers of the contestants in this prestigious race.
The older horses get the chance to strut their stuff in the other grade 1 on the Saratoga card, the Woodward Stakes. It’s a $600,000 grade 1 race for three year olds and above over a mile and an eighth and includes the mighty Frosted in a field of nine. He has been simply devastating in his last two races, The Metropolitan Handicap and Whitney, earning Beyers of 123 (yes 123!) and 107 respectively.
With no disrespect to the other runners, if Frosted runs to the level of either of those races he will win this race. He could even dip a bit below that level and still win comfortably. Not surprising then that his Morning Line odds are set at a miserly 1/2.
The two likely dangers are Bradester (unbeaten this year) and Mubtaahij (second to Californai Chrome in the World Cup). They are likely to make or be on the pace, probably dependent on how connections intend to run Frosted. Whether they have the strength and stamina to keep attacking or hold off Frosted remains to be seen.
Finally, we head to Del Mar for the other grade 1 on the day, the Del Mar Debutante Stakes, a 7 furlong race for 2 year old fillies worth $300,000.
7 runners face the starter for this valuable event with Morning Line favoritism allotted to Champagne Room at 2/1. This is on the back of a win in the grade 2 Sorrento Stakes over 6 ½ furlongs, which earned her a Beyer of 78, the best in the field.
However, she will not have things all her own way as Morganite already has a decision over her in their maiden. She earned a Beyer of 74 for this and was aimed at this race immediately after her win. Normal improvement from her first run will surely put her in the mix.
This looks a very competitive race with plenty of potential talent in the field with Miss Southern Miss, American Cleopatra and Noted And Quoted bringing solid credentials to the table. This is definitely a race to watch and follow.