Todd Pletcher, who has won the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) three times, will have a 50-50 chance at winning another when he sends out four of the eight starters in the Sept. 5 race for juvenile fillies.
The $250,000 Spinaway, run at seven furlongs on the Saratoga main track, is the feature of the Sunday program that also includes the $100,000 Saranac (gr. IIIT). Pletcher nominated nine to the race but decided on saddling Valiant Passion, Sky Hosoya, Stopspendingmaria, and R Heat Lightning.
Sky Hosoya and Stopspendingmaria are both owned by Repole Stable and will run as a coupled entry. The speedy Sky Hosoya broke her maiden wire-to-wire in a $50,000 maiden claimer July 29 at Saratoga, running away to a nearly 10-length score going 5 1/2 furlongs. She is by Bluegrass Cat, out of the Two Punch mare T. K. O. Lady.
Stopspendingmaria also led all the way when breaking her maiden by seven lengths at Belmont July 1, then came back to run a solid second to current entrant Le Mi Geaux in the July 23 Schuylerville (gr. III) on the slop at the Spa. She is by Montbrook, out of the Notebook mare Cutoffs.
John Velazquez rode both fillies last out, but will stick with Stopspendingmaria for the Spinaway, while Javier Castellano has the mount on Sky Hosoya.
“I would be surprised if Sky Hosoya were not the pacesetter,” said Pletcher. “With Stopspendingmaria, in (the Schuylerville) she had to gun from the rail over a sloppy track, we’ll look to let her settle into a rhythm.”
Pletcher’s other starters are Valient Passion, who was a 9 1/4-length maiden special weight winner in her Aug. 12 debut at Saratoga while racing for Ralph Nicks before being bought privately by Team Valor International, and E. Paul Robsham Stables’ R Heat Lightning, a maiden winner at Delaware Park in July and runner-up last out in the Colleen Stakes Aug. 7 at Monmouth Park.
“She has done well since arriving in our barn, and I hope I can get her to run as well as Ralph was able to,” said Pletcher of Valient Passion, the 3-1 morning-line choice. “We were impressed (by R Heat Lightning's first race), and she closed strongly at Monmouth, so we think she’ll show continued improvement with more distance."
Pletcher won the Spinaway with in Circle of Life in 1999, Ashado in 2003, and Adieu in 2005.
Sure to draw betting attention will be Lansdon Robbin III’s Le Mi Geaux, who won the Schuylerville (gr. III) by 1 1/2 lengths for Rick Dutrow Jr. The homebred daughter of First Samurai broke her maiden at second asking by more than seven lengths in June at Churchill Downs. Freddie Lenclud retains the mount.
“We know she likes the track, and she ran like she’ll like the extra distance,” said Dutrow. “The pace won’t really matter as she blew them out gate-to-wire in her maiden win and came from nearly last in the Schuylerville.”
Others starters in the Spinaway include Adirondack (gr. II) second and third-place finishers Alienation and Coax Liberty, respectively; and impressive first out maiden winner Abide.
$250,000 Spinaway (gr. I, Race 10, 5:56 p.m.), 2YO Fillies, 7 Furlongs PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Abide (KY), 2/F L S Bridgmohan, 119, S M Asmussen
2. Stopspendingmaria (FL), 2/F L J R Velazquez, 119, T A Pletcher
3. Alienation (KY), 2/F L C Hill, 119, B Baffert
4. Sky Hosoya (KY), 2/F L J Castellano, 119, T A Pletcher
5. Valiant Passion (KY), 2/F L J R Leparoux, 119, T A Pletcher
6. Le Mi Geaux (KY), 2/F L F Lenclud, 119, R E Dutrow, Jr.
7. Coax Liberty (KY), 2/F L J C Caraballo, 119, J L Lawrence II
8. R Heat Lightning (FL), 2/F L G K Gomez, 119, T A Pletcher