Though there are just six entered in the 10-furlong Alabama -- with only five betting interests -- the outcome could have a say in this year's end-of-year honors in a talented 3-year-old filly division. That's especially true if Godolphin's Music Note shows up for a rematch of her win over Proud Spell in the roughly run Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park June 28.
Music Note, who later notched her fourth straight victory in the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) at Belmont, and Godolphin stablemate Little Belle, winner of the Ashland (gr. I) earlier this year, were both entered in the Alabama. Music Note remains under consideration for the $1-million Travers presented by Shadwell Farm (gr. I) Aug. 23 and could be scratched from the Alabama.
Proud Spell, a daughter of Proud Citizen owned and bred by former Kentucky Governor Brereton C. Jones, won the Kentucky Oaks by five lengths leading up to her rough trip in the Mother Goose. She struggled to finish second after cutting herself on the gate and then was disqualified to third for interference in the stretch. Proud Spell finished 3 1/2 lengths behind Music Note.
“I understand Music Note came out of that race with one lost shoe and another bent shoe, and this one here got butchered, so you can’t gauge anything off that race,” said Larry Jones, trainer of Proud Spell. “We’ve never been ashamed of her, and when we lead her over there Saturday we’ll feel the same way.”
Proud Spell rebounded from her loss in the Mother Goose to score a three-quarters-of-a-length win in the Delaware Oaks (gr. II) two weeks later. Never worse than third in her 10 lifetime starts with earnings of $1,615,110, she comes into the Alabama after a sharp five-furlong work in 1:00 2/5 Aug. 11 over the all-weather track at Fair Hill.
“This is where champions are made,” said Jones. “And that’s why she’s here.”
Music Note, an A.P. Indy filly, bounced out of the Mother Goose with an 11-length triumph over Little Belle in the Coaching Club. She has won every start she's made since a fourth-place finish in her maiden debut, the four victories coming by a combined margin of nearly 29 lengths.
Music Note and Little Belle, who also ran second in the Kentucky Oaks, have also been training forwardly for the Alabama.
“They’re both doing well,” said Rick Mettee, North American racing manager for Godolphin. “It’s nice to have that luxury of two in a grade I race at a mile and a quarter.”
The Alabama has also drawn last year’s Demoiselle (gr. II) winner, Mushka, who returned to action at the Spa after eight months with a third-place allowance finish July 25; Sweet Vendetta, who won the Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) at Pimlico in her last start May 16 and has won three of five starts this year; and the Bobby Frankel-trained Skylighter, making her stakes debut off back-to-back wins at Belmont.
Mushka, who recorded an eye-catching 4 1/2-length score in the Demoiselle, could be ready to take her place in the top tier of her division. Trainer Bill Mott is eager to see how the daughter of Empire Maker fares Saturday.
“We thought if we could get a race into her, we could make the Alabama,” he said. “It puts us in a good spot. We would have liked two races, but we wanted to give her the opportunity.”
$600,000 Alabama Stakes (gr. I, Race 9, 5:30 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/4 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Proud Spell (KY), Gabriel Saez
2. (a)Music Note (KY), Javier Castellano
3. Skylighter (KY), Edgar S. Prado
4. Mushka (KY), John R. Velazquez
5. (a)Little Belle (KY), Rajiv Maragh
6. Sweet Vendetta (NY), Ramon A. Dominguez
Each assigned 121 pounds.
(a) Godolphin Stable entry