Contested, a grade I winner who was last in her most recent start, will attempt to regain winning form and earn her most lucrative victory to date when competing in the 87th renewal of the $500,000 Test Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 25 at Saratoga Race Course.
The Test is a seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies run as race 10 with an approximate post time of 4:38 p.m. EDT. It is part of a 13-race card that also features the $ 1 million Travers (gr. I), $500,000 Foxwoods King's Bishop (gr. I), and $250,000 Ballston Spa presented by Jose Cuervo (gr. IIT).
NBC provides televised coverage from 4-6 p.m., while the Horse Racing Radio Network will broadcast via www.horseracingradio.net and on Sirius 92 or HANK 96.1-FM in Lexington.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert for his wife, Jill, Contested broke her maiden by 6 1/2 lengths last October in her second start, then aired by 5 3/4 lengths in an open allowance in April, both at Santa Anita Park. The Ghostzapper filly then ventured to Kentucky to win the Eight Belles (gr. III) by 4 3/4 lengths on May 4 at Churchill Downs. She continued east to win the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) by five later that month at Belmont Park.
Kept at Belmont, she attempted to land another grade I in the Mother Goose Stakes June 23 but faltered badly, finishing last of five as the 1-2 favorite over a drying-out main track labeled "good."
"I think the track had a lot to with Contested's poor performance in the Mother Goose," said Jim Barnes, Baffert's assistant. "It had rained heavily the night before. It was a different track the day we ran in the Acorn. It was very fast that day. The day we ran in the Mother Goose it was deep, and I don't think you wanted to be on the inside."
Contested returned to California following the Mother Goose, turning in five workouts at Del Mar, and arrived at Saratoga Aug. 20.
"She's training well and the weather should be good throughout the weekend, so I expect her to rebound in the Test," Barnes said.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano takes over on Contested, who drew post 8 as the 2-1 morning-line favorite.
Like Contested, Gypsy Robin is a graded stakes winner looking to rebound off a last-place finish. She closed out her 2011 season with a win in the Sorority in September at Monmouth Park and opened this year with a three-length score in the Beaumont (gr. II) at Keeneland in April. After registering a four-length triumph in the Inaugural Stakes at Presque Isle Downs, the bay daughter of Daaher chased pacesetters and faded in the stretch to finish sixth in the July 7 Victory Ride (gr. III) at Belmont.
"She was training at Saratoga as great as she ever had prior to the Victory Ride," said conditioner Wesley Ward, who owns Gypsy Robin in partnership with Gatewood Bell and New England Patriots tight end Wes Welker. "I came into the Victory Ride confident I was going to win the race. She scoped clean after the race."
Ward said he has reason to hope Gypsy Robin's dull effort in the Victory Ride was an aberration.
"When she returned to the track a few days after the Victory Ride, she was bucking and kicking like she never ran," said Ward. "Every work has been sensational since the Victory Ride. Seven-eighths is a little questionable for a speed filly, but she couldn't be coming into the race any better."
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride Gypsy Robin, 15-1 on the morning line, from post 7.
After breaking her maiden in May, Book Review was second by 3 3/4 lengths in a Belmont optional claimer in June that turned out to be a key race. The winner, Questing, came back to capture the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) and Alabama (gr. I), and third-place finisher Baffle Me returned to win a Saratoga optional claimer. Likewise, Book Review won a seven-furlong entry level allowance July 20.
"She's really the last filly that's even been within earshot of Questing at the finish line, so that gives me some confidence for sure," said Book Review's trainer, Chad Brown. "Questing is an awfully nice horse. I thought Book Review ran well when she ran second to her. I'm looking forward to running her and seeing if she can step up to that level. She's doing very well."
Book Review, a Mary and Gary West homebred by Giant's Causeway , drew post 3 and is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. Javier Castellano has the call.
The Test also attracted the third and fourth-place finishers from the Delaware Oaks (gr. II), Amie's Dini and Aubby K.
The Test will be Amie's Dini's first start around one turn since she was second in the Dixie Belle Stakes in January at Oaklawn Park. Following that race, she won the Martha Washington, was second in the Honeybee (gr. III) and Fantasy (gr. II), and reported home eighth in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). In the Delaware Oaks July 14, she raced just off the pace in second and gave way in the stretch to finish third, beaten six lengths by Grace Hall.
David Cohen will ride the Bandini filly, 8-1, from post 10. Ronald Moquett trains for Mike D. Walker and Lou Sutterfield.
James Spence's Aubby K, runaway winner of a Gulfstream Park optional claimer in March, was third by 6 1/4 lengths in the Acorn, then finished a neck behind Amie's Dini in the Delaware Oaks after making a bid for the lead on the final turn. Trained by Ralph Nicks, the daughter of Street Sense will depart from post 2 under Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado at 5-1 on the morning line.
The Test field also includes Well Kept, third in the Mandy's Gold on Aug. 8; grade II winner Yara; Beautiful But Blue, who defeated older New York-bred fillies and mares in the Fleet Indian on Aug. 1; Jazzy Idea, a stakes winner on turf who was fourth in the Aug. 4 Prioress (gr. I); and Ullapool, second to Book Review in the July 20 optional claimer.
$500,000 Test Stakes (gr. I, Race 10, 4:38 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 7 Furlongs
PP., Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Well Kept (KY), I. Ortiz, Jr., 116, L Gyarmati, 20-1
2. Aubby K (KY), E.S. Prado, 116, R E Nicks, 5-1
3. Book Review (KY), J. Castellano, 116, C C Brown, 5-2
4. Yara (FL), R. Napravnik, 120, J C Guerrero, 20-1
5. Beautiful But Blue (NY), J. Alvarado, 116, T M Bush, 10-1
6. Jazzy Idea (MD), J. Lezcano, 116, E W Merryman, 15-1
7. Gypsy Robin (KY), J.R. Velazquez, 120, W A Ward, 15-1
8. Contested (KY), R. Bejarano, 122, B Baffert, 2-1
9. Ullapool (FL), J. Rosario, 116, E Kenneally, 15-1
10. Amie's Dini (KY), D. Cohen, 116, R Moquett, 8-1