With the promise of oppressive temperatures on Friday, I decided to pass on handicapping the opening day card at Saratoga. In retrospect, I was pleased with the runner-up performance of True Feelings in the G3 Schuylerville—this is definitely a filly to watch out for as the season progresses. Her half-sister Flirtatious (A.P. Indy) produced the champion Wait a While (Maria’s Mon); as her sire Latent Heat is a son of Maria’s Mon, True Feelings is very similarly bred to that Eclipse-winning filly, and definitely worth watching at longer distances.
Saturday at Saratoga features only one juvenile maiden special weight event, for colts going 5.5 furlongs on dirt (race 2). Based upon very sharp workouts and his connections, How Do I Win (Corinthian) looks an obvious choice; his stakes winning dam Silver Crown (Distorted Humor) won her second outing as a juvenile, and has already produced a juvenile winner in Mr. Fuzzybottom (Forest Wildcat). Another first-time starter Covert Ops (Smoke Glacken) also looks promising; Shug McGaughey trained his second dam Inside Information who broke her juvenile maiden first out. This is also the family of dual G2 winner Gone Astray who finished third in a 5.5 furlong dirt Saratoga race exactly three years to the day. With Alex Solis enjoying a Renaissance of sorts these days riding for Shug, I give this Smoke Glacken colt a good chance for a placing at least. However, keep your eye on Mr. Continental (Corinthian) who is a half-brother to the speedy Square Eddie who was a G1 winner at 2. His three-quarter sister Reverently (Pulpit) was stakes-placed on turf as a juvenile (going 8.5 furlongs) so maybe he needs a bit more distance.
Even with only five entrants, the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks looks to be a fantastic contest—when’s the last time we saw a graded-stakes race where all of the starters were already graded stakes winners? I do finding it somewhat amusing that the morning line favorite is the only filly that hasn’t attempted a G1, Royal Delta (Empire Maker). She didn’t contest the typical filly races leading to the Kentucky Oaks, but has already won at the 9-furlong distance, in a similarly small field in the G2 Black Eyed Susan. Her dam was a G3 winner on turf, and her second dam Lyphard’s Delta captured the 10-furlong G2 Nassau Stakes on turf. This is also the family of Italian G1 winner Biondetti, not to mention G1 victress Indy Five Hundred—again, both turf stars. She does seem to love jockey Jose Lezcano, so I’d give her a big shot off the layoff. Sentimentally, I’d love to see the pre-Kentucky Oaks Joyful Victory (Tapit) show up, especially the one who pulled away with ease in the G3 Honeybee. She did seem to get more interested late in the G1 Mother Goose, and the extra distance should help, but honestly, I’d be more happy minus Ramon Dominguez on her—just not thrilled with his rides for Larry Jones’ horses. Plum Pretty should love the return to real dirt, but the distance is a question—she very nearly got run down by St. John’s River in the Kentucky Oaks. It’s Tricky and Buster's Ready should go out with Plum Pretty early, so the early pace could be quite hot, leaving plenty of opportunity for late runners Joyful Victory and Royal Delta to come on late for the win.