Is it time already for the New York Racing Association to put up a wanted poster looking for 2-year-olds to compete in Saratoga stakes?
Not only did the opening day stakes, the $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III) at Saratoga Race Course, lure only five fillies, one of them, Mast Cove, has competed in only maiden claiming races in Maryland and Delaware; one, Tulira's Star, has never run on dirt, with only a maiden score on Arlington’s Polytrack; and one, Evrybdymstgetstonz, has never run in open company, breaking her maiden against New York-breds.
That leaves the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Take Charge Brandi, a maiden winner going 4 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs, and the overwhelming favorite, Fashion Alert, who captured the Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park by 4 3/4 lengths in her only start for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Fashion Alert’s Beyer Speed Figure of 88 was 28 points higher than Take Charge Brandi’s, which gives you an indication just how dominant the daughter of Old Fashioned —Titan Queen, by Tiznow , looks on paper. Even more impressive is the fact that she broke terribly in the Astoria and then was rushed to the lead, where she eventually drew off to win comfortably in 1:04.01 for the 5 1/2 furlongs.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Fashion Alert has three works at Saratoga, including a bullet half-mile work over the training track June 28, as well as two sharp half-mile drills over the main track. She will try to give Pletcher his fifth victory in the Schuylerville.
"She's special," owner George Bolton said, "Obviously, Todd thought enough of her to start her off in a stakes. I hadn't seen her since March and she'd grown up by then. From the way she gallops out and the Tiznow side, we're hoping distance won't be an issue for her this year."
But when you’re dealing with young inexperienced 2-year-olds, anything can happen, and who really knows how good Tulira’s Star and Evrybdymstgetstonz are?
The former equaled the 88 Beyer earned by Fashion Star, even if it was on Polytrack, and subsequently was purchased by Team Valor and turned over to trainer Richard Mettee. The daughter of Congrats won by 3 1/2 lengths as the 2-1 favorite and looks to have a future, especially since the filly she beat, La Grange, came back to win the Cinderella Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:09.92 at Los Alamitos. Joe Bravo has the mount.
Evrybdymstgetstonz trounced state-breds by six lengths in her career debut at 23-1, but earned only a 59 Beyer figure. However, the Gary Contessa-trained daughter of Bustin Stones looked good doing it and has since breezed a sharp three furlongs in :35 1/5 over the Saratoga training track.
Mast Cove is a daughter of Cowboy Cal whose Beyers have climbed with each start and she has improved with blinkers added, but still must prove she can handle fillies of this caliber.
As for Take Charge Brandi, the daughter of Giant's Causeway , who cost $435,000 as yearling at Keeneland September, wired her field going 4 1/2 furlongs and now must stretch out to six furlongs. She must also improve off her 60 Beyer figure.
Saratoga Race Course , Friday, July 18, 2014, Race 3
PP Horse Jockey Weight Trainer 1 Mast Cove (KY) Jose R. Betancourt 119 John J. Robb 2 Tulira's Star (KY) Joe Bravo 119 Richard C. Mettee 3 Evrybdymstgetstonz (NY) Rosario Montanez 119 Gary C. Contessa 4 Fashion Alert (KY) John R. Velazquez 121 Todd A. Pletcher 5 Take Charge Brandi (KY) Corey J. Lanerie 119 D. Wayne Lukas