Spoken Fur Ready for Final Step in Alabama

When the New York Racing Association announced that its Triple Tiara would be restructured and a $2 million bonus would be attached to the series, most horsemen thought sweeping the three races with a 3-year-old filly and winning the bonus would be next to impossible.

Now as the last leg of the Triple Tiara approaches Saturday -- the $750,000 Alabama Stakes (gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles-one filly stands to earn her owners a $2.45 million windfall.

John Amerman's Spoken Fur will try for her sixth straight victory after winning three races in Kentucky and the first two legs of the Triple Tiara at Belmont, the nine-furlong Mother Goose and 12-furlong Coaching Club American Oaks.

Spoken Fur was not owned by Amerman until she ran in the Mother Goose. Her previous owners sent her to Frankel's barn to have him train her up to the race. Knowing the filly was for sale because Frankel turned down an offer to buy her after her first start, Frankel thought she could fill a vacancy in the barn for a 3-year-old stakes filly.

"So they sent her to me and I thought 'Well, they might sell her if I run her and she runs good, so maybe I ought to buy her now,'" Frankel explained. "Mr. Amerman was lucky. He called up that morning and said he was looking for a 3-year-old filly. I told him 'I've got one in the barn.'"

Spoken Fur sat off a fast pace in the Mother Goose, her first start for Amerman and Frankel, and made an authoritative move to win convincingly by 5 1/2 lengths. She opened up another big lead in the CCA Oaks and
cruised by 3 1/2.

Everybody assumed that Frankel's biggest race of the meet would be the Travers with the presence of Empire Maker. The Alabama, however, is right there on the top of the trainer's wish list.

"[The Alabama is] the biggest race of the meet for me actually...maybe that and the Travers," Frankel said. "There's residual value in the Travers, but there's right-away money in the Alabama. It's like winning a $4 million race."

The bonus check has not been written yet and Marylou Whitney Stable's Bird Town figures to present Spoken Fur with her biggest challenge in the Triple Tiara.
Bird Town, the Kentucky Oaks and Acorn winner, sat out the first two legs of the Triple Tiara. Instead of running in those races, Bird Town's connections opted to freshen her up, and prep for the Alabama in the Test.

"This is the same pattern that we took when she won the Kentucky Oaks,"
explained trainer Nick Zito. "She had seven weeks before the Beaumont and then she had three weeks before the Oaks. She's had seven weeks before the Test and three weeks to the Alabama."

Zito believes Bird Town is the best 3-year-old filly in the country and is not approaching the Alabama with a "spoiler" mentality.

"I don't look at it as a spoiler roll," Zito said. "Spoken Fur has done some wonderful things and she looks pretty impressive, but Bird Town has all the credentials in the world."

The Eclipse Award for 3-year-old filly is probably on the line in the
Alabama. If Spoken Fur wins, she would have completed a sweep of the Triple Tiara and become the first filly to do so in 10 years. Should Bird Town be victorious, she would have won the two most important races for her sex and age, the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama. Last year's 3-year-old filly champion, Farda Amiga, won the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama.

Everest Stables' Island Fashion, an impressive 6 1/2-length winner of the Delaware Oaks will try tougher company in the Alabama. That was her first race in over two months after finishing 10 1/2 lengths behind Bird Town in the Kentucky Oaks.

Awesome Humor was runner-up to Island Fashion at Delaware. The Winstar Farm filly was undefeated at 2 last year, including victories in the Adirondack and Spinaway.

Fircroft, who finished second behind Spoken Fur in the CCA Oaks, and Halory Leigh complete the Alabama field.

1. Island Fashion, Barclay Tagg, John Velazquez, 121
2. Spoken Fur, Bobby Frankel, Jerry Bailey, 121
3. Halory Leigh, Dale Romans, Cornelio Velasquez, 121
4. Fircroft, Rusty Arnold, Jean-Luc Samyn, 121
5. Bird Town, Nick Zito, Edgar Prado, 121
6. Awesome Humor, Elliott Walden, Robby Albarado, 121