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Aug 19, 2011

Leading fillies meet in Alabama Stakes

By: SPORTS NETWORK


Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Six of the best three-year-old fillies in training will meet Saturday in Saratoga's $500,000 Alabama Stakes. The 1 1/4-mile race will go a long way in determining the 2011 division title.

The stellar field includes It's Tricky winner of the Coaching Club American Oaks, Black-Eyed Susan champ Royal Delta, Delaware Oaks winner St. John's River, Queen's Plate victor Inglorious, Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty and Pinch Pie.

Owned by Godolphin Racing, It's Tricky will start from post four with regular rider Eddie Castro in the saddle. The Kiaran McLaughlin-trainee has been established as the 9-5 morning-line favorite.

"I think they have her to beat. She's won her last two, Grade 1's, and we wouldn't trade places with anyone," said McLaughlin.

It's Tricky has put herself at the head of the three-year-old filly class with back-to-back victories in the Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks. She has won five of her six career starts for $438,000. Her only loss came in this year's Gulfstream Park Oaks when she was fourth to highly regarded R Heat Lightning.

"She's a beautiful filly and she's a very sound filly and she has always trained well," McLaughlin noted this week. "And, you know, she's a little bit difficult, she's not nervous, she's not mean, she's just a little hormonal and/or difficult at times. We had a difficult time catching her on race day at the Coaching Club Oaks day. But she's very, very attractive, confirmation wise, very sound, and a beautiful filly and she's obviously determined and has a lot of heart and will to win."

Set to break from the outside of It's Tricky in post five is St. John's River and jockey Robby Albarado. Trained by Andrew Leggio Jr, the filly is 5-1 in the program.

St. John's River won the Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park as the even-money favorite for her second career win. Owned by Dede McGehee, the three-year-old has earned $500,070 in six starts. She has two wins, three seconds and a third, including runner-up finishes in both the Fair Grounds and Kentucky Oaks.

"She's got three seconds, and with a little luck we could have won all three of those races," Leggio said. "Hopefully 1 1/4-miles will be to her liking. She always makes a big run, and, hopefully, she'll do the same thing next week."

Trainer Bill Mott will send out Royal Delta in the Alabama for just her second start since the Black-Eyed Susan three months ago. Jose Lezcano will be riding and the pair will break from the inside post. Owned by Palides Investments, the filly is 6-1 in the morning-line.

"I was laying on my pillow, and I had this dream," said Mott. "The Alabama is a very important race. It's very prestigious, she's won a graded stakes on the dirt, and was third in the Coaching Club. We may switch to the grass later on, in a Grade 1 perhaps. Right now, we're going for the Alabama."

Royal Delta has started only five times in her career, but has earned $244,600 with three wins.

Plum Pretty, trained by Bob Baffert, has drawn post three and is 2-1 with Martin Garcia back to ride. Peachtree Stable owns the filly who finished second in her two starts after taking the Kentucky Oaks.

As the 7-10 favorite, the three-year-old came up second to Zazu in the Hollywood Oaks and in the Coaching Club American Oaks she set the pace, but faded behind It's Tricky as the 9-5 top choice.

Plum Pretty has three wins in seven career starts for $841,200.

Trainer Josie Carroll ships Inglorious from Canada for the Alabama. Owned by Donver Stable, the filly will be ridden by Luis Contreras from the outside post and is 6-1 in the program.

Inglorious won the Queen's Plate over 16 three-year-old males and also captured the Woodbine Oaks and La Lorgnette Stakes at the Toronto track. She began 2011 by finishing second at the Fair Grounds in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes and was fourth in the Fair Grounds Oaks. The filly has won five of seven career starts for more than $1.2 million.

The 15-1 longshot in the field is Pinch Pie trained by Tony Dutrow. The filly will be ridden by John Velazquez from post two.

Pinch Pie, owned by Michael Dubb, is coming off a victory in the Desert Vixen Stakes at Monmouth Park. In seven lifetime starts she has three wins for $105,012.

Here is the complete field in post position order: Royal Delta, Jose Lezcano, 6-1; Pinch Pie, John Velazquez, 15-1; Plum Pretty, Martin Garcia, 2-1; It's Tricky, Eddie Castro, 9-5; St. John's River, Robby Albarado, 5-1 and Inglorious, Luis Contreras, 6-1.

The Alabama will be televised on NBC with a 5:45 p.m.(et) post-time.

Last year's Alabama featured rival fillies Blind Luck and Havre de Grace. Eventual three-year-old champ Blind Luck caught Havre de Grace at the wire to win by a neck.



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