Highlighted by six stakes worth $1.15 million, nearly 100 New York-breds are slated to compete on a special 11-race card for the inaugural "Saratoga Showcase Day" Aug. 24 at Saratoga Race Course.
Captain Serious and Empire Dreams, the winners of the first two legs of the Big Apple Triple, will meet in the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds. The 1 1/8-mile Albany completes the series, which also is contested at Belmont Park (Mike Lee) and Finger Lakes Racetrack (New York Derby).
A homebred owned by Barry Schwartz, Captain Serious won his first three starts, all against New York-breds, before placing a pair of graded stakes.
In his third race, Captain Serious led the seven-furlong Mike Lee from gate to wire to prevail by three lengths over Empire Dreams in May at Belmont. He set the pace again when second in Belmont's 1 1/16-mile Dwyer (gr. III) in July, giving way late to Kid Cruz, who prevailed by three-quarters of a length. Most recently, Captain Serious pressed the pace when third, beaten five lengths, in the 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam (gr. II) July 26 at Saratoga.
Trainer Michael Hushion said the Albany's 1 1/8-mile distance and lucrative purse were the primary reasons why he entered Captain Serious instead of taking on graded stakes competition again.
"It was an opportunity to find out how far he'll go, and it's $250,000," said Hushion. "He's a gelding, so we don't have to try to establish him as a stallion."
Hushion added that getting Captain Serious to relax will be important in the Albany, his first start around two turns.
"I'll leave it up to the rider, wherever he finds him," said Hushion. "With the two turns, I just want him to have him in his hands a little bit and get him comfortable."
After finishing second in the Mike Lee, Empire Dreams won his route and two-turn debut, the New York Derby, by 2 1/4 lengths. His accomplishments also include a score in the NYSS Great White Way in November at Aqueduct Racetrack.
"He settled and he had a good position," said Tom Albertrani, who trains Empire Dreams for West Point Thoroughbreds. "There was a lot of crowding at the start, but it didn't really affect him. He just sat off the leaders and finished up strongly the last eighth of a mile. Stretching him out, he really seemed to benefit from the two turns. He really seems to appreciate the extra ground. We always wanted to stretch him out, but we never had the chance to do it sooner."
The Albany field also includes Eye Luv Lulu, Little Daddy, Free Mugatu, Effinex, So Lonesome, and Fox Rox.
Patricia Generazio's multiple graded stakes winner Discreet Marq headlines a probable field of five for the $150,000 Yaddo Stakes for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up, going 1 1/16 miles on the lawn.
The 4-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat has made six of her past seven starts in grade I stakes, including a win in the Del Mar Oaks last August. Trained by Christophe Clement, Discreet Marq was most recently third in the July 19 Diana Stakes (gr. IT) at Saratoga.
"She's raced in four grade I's in a row," Clement said. "I wanted to get an easier race for her. The Yaddo will be a little easier than the Ballston Spa on Saturday. She's doing great; I'm excited to see her run.
"It won't be an easy race, but hopefully an easier race," he added. "And then she can go from there, maybe to the (Flower Bowl)."
Trainer Chad Brown has entered Dayatthespa into the Yaddo, but is expected to run the mare in the Ballston Spa (gr. IIT) on the Travers Day undercard.
A field of salty older turf horses is set to run in the $150,000 West Point presented by Trustco Bank, which will feature the return of graded stakes winner King Kreesa.
Now under the care of David Donk, King Kreesa was previously trained by Jeremiah Englehart for owners Gerald and Susan Kresa. The son of King Cugat has been remarkably consistent in his career, hitting the board in 12 of 17 turf starts and earning more than $650,000.
The 5-year-old gelding has not run since contesting the group I Longines Hong Kong Mile Dec. 8 at Sha Tin, in which he faded to 12th after dictating the early pace.
"(Hong Kong) racing just wasn't his style," said Donk. "He's a really nice horse, and Jeremiah did a phenomenal job with him. It's not going to be an easy spot—there's a lot of good New York-breds in that division—but I've got to start somewhere."
Lubash, Hangover Kid, Notacatbutallama, Sir Leslie, Barrel of Love, and Street Game complete the field.
Winner of state-bred stakes at Aqueduct and Finger Lakes, Flipcup will make her Saratoga debut in the $200,000 Fleet Indian for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
Flipcup began her career in Canada before arriving in New York last December, winning the East View Stakes in her stateside debut. Runner-up in the Busanda to open her 2014 campaign, she captured the New York Oaks going 1 1/16 miles by a neck July 12. Returning to Woodbine, she ran second by a half-length in the Eternal Search Stakes Aug. 2.
Rajiv Maragh will ride Flipcup, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, from post 4 in a field of nine.
Alwaysinstilettos and Jcs American Dream, who ran second and fourth, respectively, in the New York Oaks, will try to turn the tables on Flipcup in the Fleet Indian.Lucky Nancy E., Storied Lady, Star Grazing, Canal Six, Desert Valentine, and Easy Living are also entered.