Large Fields Highlight Opening Day at Spa
As it does every summer, Thoroughbred racing comes alive with the start of Saratoga. Judging by the number of entries for the opening day card July 23, there are plenty of horsemen feeling the buzz of excitement.
The historic upstate New York racetrack will kick off its 142nd meet with a stellar opening day card, highlighted by the $100,000 Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-old fillies and the $75,000 James Marvin Stakes that drew an exceptional field of 10 sprinters. A 10-race program has been carded with a total of 127 horses entered. The Schuylerville is one of 52 stakes scheduled at the 40-day meet.
Five of the seven entrants in the six-furlong Schuylerville are undefeated. If she goes, one of the juvenile fillies to beat will be Final Mesa, unbeaten and unchallenged in three starts for owner/trainer Wesley Ward. The electric New York-bred daughter of Sky Mesa —Final Style, by Smart Style, has romped in all three efforts, breaking her maiden by more than seven lengths at Keeneland, destroying an overmatched field in the Polly Drummond Stakes May 15 at Delaware Park, and cruising to an easy win the My Dear Stakes June 26 at Woodbine.
Final Mesa, bred by Carmine Telesca and John Guerrera, was purchased for $72,000 at the 2009 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga yearling sale for $72,000. She has already earned $142,377. The bay filly, who is based at Keeneland for Ward, would carry top weight of 121 pounds while spotting two pounds to her six rivals.
But Ward has also entered Final Mesa’s stablemate Spa Sunrise and seems to be leaning toward running her. Spa Sunrise won her debut in wire-to-wire fashion July 8 at Belmont, scoring by 1 1/2 lengths going 5 1/2 furlongs. The New York bred daughter of Eddington might relish longer distances.
“Right now, I’m leaning toward running Spa Sunrise,” said Ward. “They’re both talented fillies with similar physical attributes. The good thing about Spa Sunrise is her mind, and I think that will help her go a little longer.”
The coupled entry of Final Mesa and Spa Sunrise was installed as the 2-1 morning-line choice. Eibar Coa was named to ride both fillies, meaning one must scratch.
Also undefeated in their debuts were Flying Zee Stable’s Show Me the Bling, a winner at Monmouth Park June 5; John Glenney’s Dos Lunas, who won on the turf at Churchill June 27; and Klaravich Stables’ and W. H. Lawrence’s Let's Get Fiscal, an easy victor at Belmont June 17. Richard Violette trains Let’s Get Fiscal, who is by Bandini.
“She breezed very well the other day, and she’s been very professional since the day we first put tack on her,” said Violette. “It’s time to get the show on the road.”
Though they were beaten in their debuts, Repole Stable’s Stopspendingmaria and Lansdon Robbins’ Le Mi Geaux romped by more than seven lengths in their last starts. Both won in front-running fashion, Stopspendingmaria at Belmont on July 1 and Le Mi Geaux at Churchill June 20.
Trainer Todd Pletcher is anxious to get Stopspendingmaria going in stakes company.
“We were very pleased with her maiden win,” said Pletcher, who won the Schuylerville in 2002 with Freedom’s Daughter, in 2003 with Ashado, and in 2006 with Cotton Blossom. “She came out of the race in good order, has been training well, and we’re excited about running her.”
The James Marvin, at seven furlongs for 3-year-olds and up, drew a field of 10 and is highlighted by several big names. Among them are graded winners Friesan Fire , Cool Coal Man , Le Grand Cru, Atoned, You and I Forever, and the expected favorite Vineyard Haven , a three-time grade I winner making his much-anticipated 4-year-old debut.
As a juvenile, Vineyard Haven won the Three Chimneys Hopeful (gr. I) at Saratoga. The following summer he crossed the wire first in the King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) but was disqualified to second for interference in the stretch. Godolphin Racing's son of Lido Palace will be ridden by Alan Garcia for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
$75,000 James Marvin (Race 8, 4:55 p.m.), 3 & Up, 7 Furlongs (Dirt)
Copyright © 2015 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.