Adirondack Preview: A Triangle of Tough Fillies

By Sean Clancy
From The Saratoga Special, reprinted with permission

You can trace a scalene triangle of barns from Steve Asmussen's to Todd Pletcher's to Bobby Frankel's on the Saratoga backstretch. The three shedrows, all on the Oklahoma side, house the three favorites for today's Grade II Adirondack Stakes.

Asmussen conditions the undefeated favorite Cashier's Dream, Pletcher brings Smok'n Frolic to the party while Frankel has You set for the $150,000 stakes. Walking distance for sure, the three barns made good stops the day before the 6 1/2 furlong feature.

Asmussen's barn moved the quietest. The long open shedrow barn has housed trainers like Red Terrill and Joe Orseno in the past and now is decorated in blue and white with A on all the equipment.

The trainer was at Remington Park with Compendium for the Oklahoma Derby while Cashier's Dream hung her head over a screen and drifted off to sleep. The last set was at the gate and it was pretty quiet around the Asmussen barn. One employee in a faded Marshall Faulk football jersey cleaned tack and said only, "I don't like to say too much." He showed off the "big mare" to the visitor and went back to cleaning tack.

Cashier's Dream has been saying enough for the whole barn rolling off three straight scores at Churchill Downs. The daughter of Service Stripe moved to Asmussen after Team Valor and Heiligbrodt Racing Stable purchased her privately from owner, breeder, trainer James Jackson. She won her first start for the new connections in the Debutante, breaking the track record while she was at it.

Donnie Meche rides the chestnut filly from the inside post.

Heading over to Pletcher's barn is a different story. The Spotless white TAP barn moves with precision even during a family reunion. Jerry Bailey's agent Ron Anderson drives up in a golf cart and meets Pletcher in the office to go over assignments. Bloodstock agents stop about a filly for sale. Pletcher's kids get a riding lesson and the last set starts walking while the new set waits patiently.

Pletcher stops between the tack room and his pony for a business-like talk about Smok'n Frolic. The daughter of Smoke Glacken tries to recover from a harried experience in her last start where she broke through the gate, argued about reloading and then ran hard to finish second to Touch Love in the Astoria at Belmont.

"She's been a filly who's always been a little on edge at the gate. She actually loaded pretty well but one of the horses close to her rattled around in there and she just charged the doors," Pletcher said. "Then it seemed like to me it took 20 minutes to load her, I know it wasn't but it just took forever to get her back in there. Those situations have to take a lot out of you, in nervous energy. We've spent a lot of time with her since then and feel like we're in good shape. Hopeful we won't have to stew in there for too long."

Pletcher purposely skipped the Schuylerville with Smok'n Frolic to give her some extra time after the stressful situation in the Prioress.

"I couldn't see it necessarily but I just thought it had to be a hard race," Pletcher said. "We've given her plenty of time to acclimatize. We just needed to back away a little bit, freshen her up, calm her down and spend a lot of time with her in the gate and in the paddock. In the mornings she's responded very well to it, we'll see about it on race day. She's not at all a difficult filly to be around, I think she wants to do right so bad that she just works herself up a little bit."

Jerry Bailey returns for the ride aboard the Dogwood Stable runner.

Frankel's Hall of Fame stable sits smack in the middle of a gaggle of barns near the 7/8 pole of the Oklahoma track. Blue with white trim is the only thing that differentiates it from the next barn. Well, other than Whitney winner Lido Palace and Kentucky Oaks winner Flute going about their business.

Frankel starts You, a daughter of You And I, in the Adirondack. It will be the first start under Frankel's care for Edmund Gann's filly.

Frankel grabbed the Form from Mark Guidry's agent, Ronnie Ebanks and took a look at the race. He noticed the weight difference from the last time You met Cashier's Dream, a seven pound swing from a three length defeat. He seemed to say hmmm and walked off down the horse path.

Edgar Prado rides You for the first time.

The triangle was complete with Frankel. Now we'll see if any those points in the triangle make it to the circle this afternoon.

Contact Sean Clancy via e-mail at or telephone at 518-581-1947.