Saturday is dominated by quality filly races, most notably visible in the G1 Alabama. My picks for the major races:
G1 Alabama Stakes:
Thus far, Bob Baffert looks like a genius after bolting Del Mar for Saratoga, and Tough Tiz’s Sis should solidify that with a breakout win. Her previous foray into Grade 1 company was on Churchill’s muddy track for the Kentucky Oaks. Since then, this bay filly won the G2 Hollywood Breeders Cup Oaks in comfortable fashion, and has torn up the track in her workouts. Not sure why, but she scratched from the G2 Delaware Oaks (won by Moon Catcher); she also dropped out of the G2 Clement Hirsch, ostensibly to avoid Nashoba’s Key, but more likely due to Baffert’s aversion to Del Mar’s polytrack. While Octave hasn’t finished any worse than second ever, I see Lear’s Princess beating her here. In the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks, she was closing on Octave, and her subsequent works indicate she lost nothing in the effort. Edgar Prado thinks Panty Raid is better on turf; I’ll take his word for it and bet against her here (probably to no avail).
G1 Del Mar Oaks:
While Valbenny appears the likely choice here, I proffer Gotta Have Her, who has three smart works since her easy win on July 22 following a layoff. She performed competitively with these earlier in the year, and appears to be improving with age. I liked Supposition going into her last effort, the G1 American Breeders Cup Oaks, but had the misfortune of her saddle slipping during the race. She should be ready here.
G3 Arlington Oaks:
While the Toddster appears a bit snake-bitten at Saratoga, he’s blooming at Arlington, so I like Mini Sermon here, although this is her first foray into graded stakes company. I have a soft spot for Lemon Drop Kid’s offspring so Kiss With a Twist earns my interest, particularly after she lost by a neck in her last race to Nunnery who recently won the off-turf Waya Stakes at Saratoga. She gets top Arlington jock Baird whose winning 30%. Marietta won the G3 Iowa Oaks impressively, and followed that with recent sharp workouts. She could threaten for the win, but more likely lesser money.
G3 Iselin BC Stakes:
Some heavy hitters here including Master Command, who comes off break after disappointing sixth in the G1 Stephen Foster. This should be a perfect spot for him, as he finished a very close third in this race last year, just 2/3 length behind Park Avenue Ball. Brother Bobby has trained extremely well (and often) since layoff; he finished second behind Lawyer Ron in the G2 Oaklawn Handicap in April, but then failed in the sloppy G3 Alysheba. He has come off breaks strongly in the past, and this distance seems a perfect fit. I also like home track favorite Indy Wind, mainly because he should love the extra distance here from his previous races. Last year he finished second to Park Avenue Ball in the Skipaway Stakes prior to two-month layoff so, if he is as prepared as he appears to be, he should compete for some money here. Let me state, I love Papi Chullo, but think the distance is too much for him here.
$125,000 Ontario Debutante Stakes:
These two-year-old fillies are eclipsed by Dancing Allstar who just failed (by a nose) against boys most recently in the Colin Stakes. Officer Cherrie improved tremendously in her second start and has worked extremely sharply since. Poco Uno has an allowance win against several competitors here, and workouts suggest continued good form.