Florida Oaks winner Fifty Five at Tampa Bay Downs

Florida Oaks winner Fifty Five at Tampa Bay Downs

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Lake George Stakes a Wide-Open Affair

Graded winners Fifty Five, Dream Dancing head up a balanced field of 11.

A well-matched group of sophomore fillies accustomed to trading blows with one another co-headline the opening day of the Saratoga Race Course meeting, as graded stakes winners Fifty Five, Dream Dancing, and Sweeping Paddy are part of the 11-horse field set to start in the $150,000 Lake George Stakes (G3T) July 21.

Peter Brant's Fifty Five has the opportunity to give her Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown a graded triumph right off the bat, as he attempts to defend the Saratoga meet title he won for the first time last season. Though overshadowed by the plethora of turf standouts in her conditioner's barn, Fifty Five has quietly held her own against some of the division's best, most notably defeating multiple graded stakes winner La Coronel by a neck in the March 11 Florida Oaks (G3T) at Tampa Bay Downs.

The daughter of Get Stormy  has been right in the mix since that outing, running third to fellow Lake George entrant Party Boat in the April 23 Memories of Silver Stakes and second to grade 1-winning stablemate New Money Honey in the June 8 Wonder Again Stakes (G3T). Never worse than third in seven career starts, Fifty Five has notched three wins with earnings of  $212,600.

John Oxley's homebred Dream Dancing is part of a three-horse entry trainer Mark Casse brings to the 1 1/16-miles Lake George, along with grade 1-winner Victory to Victory and Corporate Queen, who ran sixth last time out in the Wonder Again. Dream Dancing broke her maiden over the Saratoga course last August and, after an unsuccessful main-track experiment last fall, the daughter of Tapit  returned to the grass this year and scored her first graded win when she captured the March 4 Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream Park over a group that included Party Boat and Sweeping Paddy.

Dream Dancing is another who exits a salty edition of the Wonder Again, having run third that day going 1 1/8-miles, but she'll have to overcome the far outside post in Friday's Lake George. Stablemate Victory to Victory, winner of the Natalma Stakes (G1T) at Woodbine last September, looks to get back on form after a pair of off-the-board placings, the most recent being a fifth-place finish in the June 11 Alywow Stakes at Woodbine.

"We knew there wasn't any speed (in the Wonder Again) and we didn't want New Money Honey to get too far away from us," Casse said. "(Being near the pace) just isn't what she wants to do, and I thought her performance was a bit lackluster. The good news for us is, she's come back and trained extremely well so they'll be no excuses."

Victory to Victory, a Florida-bred by Exchange Rate, will lose the blinkers she has worn in her last four starts, in hopes that the equipment change will get her to relax early.

"My concern with her after coming back this year off a layoff was that she was showing a lot of speed and we couldn't get her to rate," Casse said. "A lot of times when they do that, I'll shorten them up. I shortened her up (in the Alywow) and she just didn't have enough speed to be competitive going short, so we're going back to two turns. We took her blinkers off and we're hoping she'll settle a little better."

Since running next to last in the Herecomesthebride, Dale Romans-trained Sweeping Paddy has actually taken steps forward with her form. The daughter of Paddy O'Prado was second to Chubby Star in an allowance test at Keeneland April 7 and a solid third to La Coronel in the May 5 Edgewood Stakes Presented by Forcht Bank (G3T) en route to breaking through for a 3 1/2-length victory  over Proctor's Ledge in the June 17 Regret Stakes (G3T) at Churchill Downs.

Entries: Lake George S. (G3T)

Saratoga Race Course, Friday, July 21, 2017, Race 9

  • Grade IIIT
  • 1 1/16m
  • Turf
  • $150,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 5:40 PM (local)
11Fifty Five (NY)Jose L. Ortiz123Chad C. Brown7/2
22Fizzy Friday (GB)Jose Lezcano115Ignacio Correas, IV20/1
33Defiant Honor (KY)John R. Velazquez117James J. Toner10/1
44Chubby Star (MD)Ricardo Santana, Jr.117Horacio DePaz15/1
55Corporate Queen (KY)Joel Rosario115Mark E. Casse6/1
66Super Marina (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateManuel Franco121George Weaver15/1
77Party Boat (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoel Rosario121H. Graham Motion6/1
88Proctor's Ledge (KY)Javier Castellano117Brendan P. Walsh6/1
99Sweeping Paddy (KY)Luis Saez123Dale L. Romans4/1
1010Victory to Victory (FL)Florent Geroux121Mark E. Casse8/1
1111Dream Dancing (KY)Julien R. Leparoux123Mark E. Casse9/2