The race for 3-year-old fillies will be run at Saratoga for the first time in its 94-year history. Held at Belmont Park for most of its existence, the CCA Oaks was also shortened from 10 furlongs to nine this year, the first time it has been run at that distance since it premiered in 1917 at Aqueduct.
The 6-5 morning-line favorite is Glencrest Farm’s Devil May Care, who rebounded from her 10th-place finish in the May 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) to score the Mother Goose June 26 at Belmont. The daughter of Malibu Moon notched her other graded win this season in the Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park in March.
John Velasquez will have the return mount on Devil May Care for Todd Pletcher. The bay filly, who was bred in Kentucky by Diamond A Racing and is out of the Red Ransom mare Kelli’s Ransom, has won four of seven starts for earnings of $549,000.
“She came out of the race very well, and has trained well since, as she always does,” said Pletcher. “We’ve kept her on our maintenance program and she’s fit, happy, and we hope ready to run another good race.”
Runner-up in the Mother Goose was Brooklyn Boyz Stables’ Connie and Michael, who fell short by 1 1/4 lengths after rallying under Rajiv Maragh. In her first start of 2010, her dirt debut, the Roman Ruler filly romped by more than five lengths in an allowance race.
Maragh will retain the mount on Connie and Michael, who makes her first start for trainer Domenic Schettino. She was previously trained by Ken McPeek.
“Since the Mother Goose, she’s really started to blossom,” said Anthony Bonomo Jr., assistant to Schettino and son of Brooklyn Boyz principal Anthony Bonomo. “She’s really coming into her own and showing a lot of talent. She seems happy to be on the track doing what she’s doing, and that’s something you like to see.”
Third in the Mother Goose was Brereton Jones’ Biofuel, who is making her first start on dirt for trainer Reade Baker. Biofuel entered that race off consecutive stakes wins at Woodbine. She won the grade III Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine as a juvenile.
The other five challengers all enter off wins. Jay Em Ess Stable’s Acting Happy was victorious in the May 14 Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) at Pimlico.The lightly raced Empire Maker filly has never finished worse than second in four lifetime starts and will get the services of Jose Lezcano as she breaks from the outside.
Seeking the Title also started in the Black-Eyed Susan, but stumbled trying to avoid a fallen horse and unseated rider Kent Desormeaux on the far turn. Returning in a 12-horse renewal of the Betfair TVG Acorn (gr. I) on the Belmont Stakes undercard June 5, she finished sixth, and then bounced back three weeks later to win the Iowa Oaks (gr. III) at Prairie Meadows.
“After something like the Black-Eyed Susan, sometimes they lose focus, but she really didn’t,” said Dallas Stewart, who trains the daughter of Seeking the Gold for Charles Fipke. “She’s trained right on and we were very happy with her race in the Iowa Oaks; she had to steady at the quarter pole and then got out and up in time."
The CCA Oaks, which has produced several champions and Hall of Famers, is not the only grade I to have been moved from Belmont to Saratoga this year. The Ruffian Handicap, for older fillies and mares, is also on the Saratoga calendar for the first time Aug. 1.
$250,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I, Race 9, 5:14 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Bahama Bound (KY), J Castellano, 121, B Tagg
2. Lisa's Booby Trap (FL), E Castillo, 121, T E Snyder
3. Seeking the Title (KY), R Albarado, 121, D Stewart
4. Connie and Michael (KY), R Maragh, 121, D A Schettino
5. Absinthe Minded (KY), G K Gomez, 121, D W Lukas
6. Biofuel (KY), E R Da Silva, 121, R Baker
7. Devil May Care (KY), J R Velazquez, 121, T A Pletcher
8. Acting Happy (KY), J Lezcano, 121, R E Dutrow Jr.