Fifteen Charge Into Saratoga's Darley Test

(from Saratoga report)
Lacking a clear-cut standout, 15 sophomore fillies were entered for Saturday's $250,000 Darly Test Stakes (gr. I) over seven furlongs at Saratoga Race Course.

Both the $750,000 Whitney (gr. I) and Darley Test will be televised live by ESPN beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern as part of its "Road to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships -- Powered by Dodge."

James T. Scatuorchio's 3-year-old Ready to Please, trained by Todd Pletcher and piloted by John Velazquez, has the favorite's role, but at 9-2 on the morning line, is far from an overwhelming choice.

Ready to Please was third to Bushfire in Belmont Park's nine-furlong Mother Goose (gr. I) on July 1. Last spring, the daughter of More Than Ready  captured the Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park.

The filly that could be the one to beat is Hello Liberty, who won the Nassau Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Belmont and then was beaten a neck in Belmont's Acorn (gr. I) by the salty Bushfire.

That was enough to convince trainer J. Larry Jones to give her a breather and point for the Darley Test. Based at Delaware Park, which is infamous for its heat and humidity, Hello Liberty left her barn at 11 p.m. Wednesday and, after an uneventful trip, arrived without incident at Saratoga at 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

"She's a good filly, and if it has taken her a while to learn this game, that's because I don't push my young horses," Jones said. "If they win when they are 2, it's because they can run. She has shown that she can break well and she can push right up against the pace. This is a big field, and you don't want to get into any traffic problems because it is a sprint, so hopefully, she'll be able to get position early."

Mario Pino has the mount on Hello Liberty.

New Farm's Wild Gams, a Forest Wildcat filly who has won three of her five starts this year, ships up from Monmouth Park for trainer Ben Perkins Jr. Beaten a neck in the Prioress (gr. I) by Hello Liberty's stablemate Wildcat Bettie B, she came from off the pace that day under jockey Mike Luzzi.

H. Allen Jerkens, the 77-year-old trainer who first came to Saratoga Race Course in 1946, has two fillies entered for the Darley Test: Joseph V. Shields Jr.'s Any Limit and Hobeau Farm's Swap Fliparoo.

"They're both doing good," said Jerkens, who won the Test with November Snow in1992 and Society Selection in 2004. "You never know how horses are going to handle heat like this. You want them to sweat, when they don't, that's when you have a problem. With all this heat, we gave them more baths and they seem to be alright."

Swap Fliparro, an Exchange Rate filly, is entered because she has a win and a second in two Saratoga starts and has a closing style that will benefit from her stablemate keeping an honest pace.

Any Limit, a daughter of Limit Out is riding a three-race winning streak, all at Belmont Park, and has the speed to be dangerous..

An intriguing prospect is Charles Cono LLC's Diplomat Lady, a Foresty filly who ran fourth in the Prioress for California-based trainer Christopher Paasch.

"She really didn't handle the track at Belmont all that well, but she came out of that race great and I think seven furlongs is her best distance," Paasch said.

Trainer Patrick Biancone has entered both Sabatini and Wild Fit for respective owners Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor.

Wild Fit was second and third in a pair of grade I races in California., while Sabatini exits a Churchill Downs victory at the Darley Test distance. Wild Fit is only expected to start if there is an off track.

$250,000 Test Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 5:12 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Ex Caelis (KY), Rafael Bejarano, 116, 30/1
2. Livermore Valley (MD), Javier Castellano, 116, 20/1
3. Misty Rosette (KY), Garrett K. Gomez, 118, 12/1
4. a-Sabatini (KY), Julien R. Leparoux, 116, 6/1
5. Win McCool (KY), Ramon A. Dominguez, 116, 20/1
6. a-Wild Fit (FL), Julien R. Leparoux, 120, 6/1
7. Hello Liberty (KY), Mario G. Pino, 120, 6/1
8. Capote's Crown (KY), Kent J. Desormeaux, 116, 12/1
9. Joint Effort (FL), Edgar S. Prado, 118, 12/1
10. Original Spin (IL), Fernando Jara, 118, 50/1
11. Swap Fliparoo (FL), Eibar Coa, 116, 6/1
12. Ready to Please (KY), John R. Velazquez, 120, 9/2
13. Wild Gams (NJ), Michael J. Luzzi, 118, 5/1
14. Diplomat Lady (KY), Cornelio H. Velasquez, 120, 20/1
15. Any Limit (KY), Richard Migliore, 116, 15/1
a-Derick Smith and Michael Tabor-owned entry