Schuylerville Returns as Spa Begins Season

Dogwood Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher will be looking to get a fast start at the 138th Saratoga season when they send out Cotton Blossom in the $100,000-added Schuylerville (gr. III) for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs on Wednesday's opening day at the Spa.

The Schuylerville, which drew a field of nine, is race nine on a 10-race card. The first-race post is 1 p.m. The Schuylerville was not run last year, nor was its colt/gelding equivalent, the Sanford, as part of a one-time experiment to space out the races leading into Belmont Park's fall meeting and the 2005 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

Cotton Blossom, a $210,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton July 2005 sale at Keeneland, had an easy debut at Monmouth Park on June 16. She outclassed two rivals en route to a 5 ¾-length victory, covering the 5 1/2-furlong distance in :59. Friday morning, she worked five furlongs in 1:03 4/5, breezing on Saratoga's fast main track

"She did what she had to do," Dogwood's president Cot Campbell said of the Broken Vow  filly. "You really can't say she was spectacular in a three-horse field, but she did well. There was some jostling in the stretch. The other thing was that it was her first time at Monmouth, so when she came off the turn, she saw those umbrellas at the top of the stretch and she ducked in. There was an inquiry, but, like I said, she did what she had to do.

"She's been training up at Saratoga, and she's been working well enough that we decided to run her in the Schuylerville," Campbell added.

Pletcher has won five Saratoga training titles, including the last four years in succession. He'll also saddle Audacious Chloe for the Schuylerville.

Trainer Kelly Breen won Belmont Park's Astoria at 5 1/2 furlongs on July 8 at 24-1 with Desire to Excel, who covered the distance in 1:04 1/5. Previously, the Mt Livermore filly won her debut at Aqueduct by a neck.

"She's a real nice filly," Breen said. "It's hard to knock what she's done so far. There were no races for her after she broke her maiden. Now our plan is to take it one race at a time but to keep on running her."

Jockey Mike Smith has the mount on Desire to Excel who will break from the far outside in post 9. Smith was Saratoga's leading rider three times and New York's leading rider seven times before moving on to California. He came back to New York earlier this year and this will mark his Saratoga homecoming.

Bill Mott, who has won eight Saratoga trainer titles, will send out Chief Officer, a 10-length winner in her debut at Belmont Park on June 30. That day, she went 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04 2/5.

$100,000 Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, 5:20 p.m.), 2-Year-Old Fillies, 6 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. a-Chief Officer (NY), 119, Cornelio H. Velasquez
2. Expertise (KY), 119, Edgar S. Prado
3. a-Baroness Thatcher (KY), 117, Rafael Bejarano
4. Becky's Flute (NY), 119, Kent J. Desormeaux
5. Angel Island (FL), 119, Shaun Bridgmohan
6. Frances G (KY), 119, Calvin H. Borel
7. Audacious Chloe (KY), 119, Garrett K. Gomez
8. Cotton Blossom (KY), 119, John R. Velazquez
9. Desire to Excel (KY), 121, Mike E. Smith
a- Zayat Stables entry