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Aug 26, 2011

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-ALABAMA-DEL MAR OAKS

By: JOE GIRARDI


               On Saturday August 20th Saratoga hosted its big race for three year old fillies, the sister race for the Travers in the Grade I Alabama, a race for three year old fillies run over 1 and ¼ miles, the same distance for the Travers and it carried a purse of $500,000, half of the Travers purse which is $1 million dollars.

               Six horses went postward for this race in an evenly matched field of three year old fillies with the favoritism going to IT’S TRICKY, the winner of the Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks, both Grade I races. She was the slight favorite, 2.20-1 over INGLORIOUS, the three year old filly from Woodbine who was coming off a win in the Million Dollar Queens Plate at the 1 and ¼ miles distance and she beat the boys in that race. However, her true test would be in the Alabama because she was trying for her first win over conventional dirt, her two tries over a conventional dirt surface came over the winter at the Fair Grounds where she finished second and fourth. She was working well into this race but it was over the polytrack at Woodbine. After breaking sixth in the field the three year old never got out of last place checking in a well beaten sixth. PLUM PRETTY, the winner of the Kentucky Oaks and hailing from the ever powerful Bob Baffert barn she was sent to the lead just as she was in the Coaching Club but tired to finish fourth in the Alabama. IT’S TRICKY who took up the same trip in the Alabama as she did in her two prior wins, took over the lead heading into the lane but couldn’t hold off the on rushing ROYAL DELTA who blew by the leaders despite lugging in badly, Jose Lezcano tried to straighten her out and she was clear to the wire by more than five lengths. IT’S TRICKY held on for second over the rank outsider PINCH PIE who closed for third late. ROYAL DELTA has shown flashes of brilliance in her career as she ran her record to four wins from six tries and she has vaulted herself to the top of the three year old division with that win.

               On the same day at Del Mar they hosted a Grade I race in the Del Mar Oaks, a Grade I for three year old fillies but this race was run over the turf at 1 and 1/8th miles distance and it carried a purse of $250,000. The favorite in the race was another Kentucky Oaks runner, SUMMER SOIREE who was purchased by Team Valor before the Kentucky Oaks but she disappointed in that race, setting the pace and then tiring to finish 10th. She was given some time off and then made a move to the turf in June at Monmouth. Basically going wire to wire that day she drew off through the lane to score by more than eight lengths. Given almost two months off she returned in the Del Mar Oaks and again put in another solid effort holding on late to score by a half-length after taking a big lead into the lane. After stalking the leader early on, she took over past the ¾ mark and held on to secure the win in a solid time of 1:46:2. She has a bright future over the lawn and the hope is that she comes back to the East Coast to face off against some of our top three year old turf fillies.    

               In the Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga on Sunday August 21st, the exciting three year old turf filly, WINTER MEMORIES was trying to improve on her 5 for 6 record against a field of six other fillies. Sent off at 2-5 WINTER MEMORIES never got going over the yielding turf course while never having a chance to really run and had to settle for fourth. HUNGRY ISLAND threw her hata in the ring putting her fourth win in a row on the board closing from last to first to score by more than two lengths. WINTER MEMORIES so impressive in the Lake George earlier in the meeting should be given another shot against HUNGRY ISLAND if they face off again and it would be a treat if those two as well as SUMMER SOIREE would meet up before the Breeders’ Cup. Either way the three year old turf fillies division is very strong and should make for an exciting fall as we had towards the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs at the beginning of November.

 



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