Champion Caressing and the lightly raced Victory Ride are being pointed toward the $200,000 Acorn (gr. I, June 8) by their respective connections.
The one-turn, one-mile Acorn is plan B for Caressing as the daughter of Honour and Glory was kept out of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) after missing training time due to a fever. Trainer David Vance believes Caressing is a better filly around two turns, but noting where the Breeders' Cup is held this year, he feels the Acorn is the logical spot.
"To be where you want be this year, you have to run around one turn more than once," he said. "You have to go to New York a couple of times and if you're around in the fall you've got to do it again. So it's a good experience for her."
Caressing, a daughter of Honour and Glory, has won four of six career races, including the seven-furlong La Troienne Stakes (gr. III) in her lone start as a 3-year-old. Her sire won the one-turn, one-mile Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park as a 3-year-old, defeating older horses.
Vance was happy with her performance in the La Troienne.
"It was a fantastic effort," Vance said. "I really was a little disturbed because she was so far back I was afraid something had happened to her. Pat (Day) didn't do much with her the first eighth of a mile. He just let her get on her feet and slowly, like the good rider he is, used common sense and it worked out great for her."
Saturday at Belmont, Victory Ride cruised to a seven-length win in the fifth race, a seven-furlong allowance contest. The win was the second in as many starts for the daughter of Seeking the Gold, who earned a 14 1/4-length victory in her racing debut at Keeneland last month.
"I was pretty much a passenger," said Jean-Luc Samyn, who was aboard for the allowance win. "I had a ton of horse at all times. I never even asked her to run. I wish all of them could be this easy."
Trained by George "Rusty" Arnold for owners G. Watts and Louise Humphrey, Victory Ride will likely race next in the Acorn.
"We knew she had talent from Day 1," said Arnold. "We're real happy with the way she has progressed so far this year. She's gotten over the little problems she had as a two-year-old. If everything goes according to plan, she'll run in the Acorn."
The Acorn is the first race in the "Triple Tiara" series and is followed by the 1 1/8-mile Mother Goose (gr. I, June 30) and 1 1/2-mile Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I, July 21).