Baffert, Jerkens Fillies Spar in Test

By Pete Spanos
A group of a dozen 3-year-old fillies will vie Saturday in the 79th running of the $250,000 Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course. Headlined by Friendly Michelle and Society Selection, the field will go seven furlongs on a surface that could prove wet -- given a stormy upstate New York forecast for the Spa's opening weekend.

Owned by Ed Friendly, the Bob Baffert-trained Friendly Michelle comes off a strong 2 1/4-length win in the six-furlong Prioress Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont July 3. The daughter of Artax has three stakes wins in her last four starts -- under as many riders -- and gets another new one in top jock Jerry Bailey.

She'll carry the top weight of 122 pounds, and will break from post 10 as they attempt to add to her career earnings of $386,794.

Irving and Marjorie Cowan's Society Selection -- trained by Allen Jerkens and ridden by Edgar Prado -- will attempt to get back to her winning form after a poor showing last time out in the Mother Goose (gr. I) at Bemont June 26. Beaten by nearly 15 lengths in that nine-furlong contest, the daughter of Coronado's Quest has two prior stakes wins to her credit -- the one-mile Comely (gr. III) at Aqueduct April 9 and the 8 1/2-furlong Frizette (gr. I) at Belmont last October -- as well as two recent game second place finishes in the Acorn (gr. I) at Belmont June 4 and the Bonnie Miss (gr. II) at Gulfstream March 6.

She did best Friendly Michelle by a nose in the Acorn -- placing behind winner Island Sand -- and posts earnings in excess of $500,00. Neither of these 3-year-olds have a race on an off surface under their belts.

Society Selection will carry 120 and break out of the seven-hole.

Both fillies will have to contend with winner of four straight, Humor Me Molly, conditioned by Allen Iwinski and ridden by John Velasquez. A daughter of Distorted Humor , she'll carry 118 and head from the outside in the 11 spot.

Also looking to keep her winning ways intact is the Steve Asmussen-trained daughter of Tactical Cat Dazzle Me, victorious in her last start in the Azalea Breeder's Cup (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park on July 10. She is four-for-five in her career and gets regular rider Shane Sellers and 115 for a trip from the five-hole.

Stakes winners Bending Strings, by American Chance -- trained by Kiaran McGlaughlin -- and Elusive Diva, by Elusive Quality -- trained by Mark Glatt, will look to upset.

Perennial Test threat Bobby Frankel, winner with You in 2002, sends out Reforest (Forestry) under rider Richard Migliore.

Test Stakes (gr. I), 3-year-olds fillies, 7 Furlongs, $250,000, Saturday, July 31 -- Approx. Post Time 4:46 PM EDT
PP -- Horse, Weight, Jockey
1 -- Reforest, 116, Richard Migliore
2 -- Rodeo Licious, 118, Aaron Gryder
3 -- Feline Story, 118, Javier Castellano
4 -- She's a Mugs, 116, Cornelio Velasquez
5 -- Dazzle Me, 118, Shane Sellers
6 -- Bending Strings, 120, Pat Day
7 -- Society Selection, 120, Edgar Prado
8 -- Elusive Diva, 118, Jorge Chavez
9 -- Prospective Saint, 116, Robbie Albarado
10 -- Friendly Michelle, 122, Jerry Bailey
11 -- Humor Me Molly, 118, John Velasquez
12 -- Forest Music, 118, Ramon Dominguez