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Opportunity knocks for Spun Sugar
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - With Smuggler and Summerly out of Saturday's $750,000 Alabama, Spun Sugar has a sweet opportunity to win her first Grade 1 stakes.
Spun Sugar finished between Smuggler and Summerly in the Grade 1 Mother Goose. One month later, Spun Sugar finished behind both Smuggler and Summerly in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks. Saturday's Alabama was to have been another meeting of the trio, but an illness to Smuggler and an injury to Summerly will keep those two fillies out of the race.
"I thought our filly held her own very well against those fillies,'' said Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Spun Sugar. "In neither race did we get the trip we were hoping to get.''
In the Mother Goose, Spun Sugar ducked into the gap where the chute and Belmont's main track meet. Javier Castellano had to hustle her across that opening, and she found herself dueling for the lead. Breaking from post 2 in the Coaching Club, Spun Sugar again found herself inside of Summerly and dueling for the lead. Pletcher said he would like to see Spun Sugar in a stalking position on Saturday.
"The one thing that was encouraging to me was inside the eighth pole we were coming back on, and we were catching back up to Summerly,'' Pletcher said. "I feel if we can change positions in the early part of the race, she's a filly that's best designed to stalk as opposed to being forced to move along on the lead.''
Sunday, Spun Sugar tuned up for her Alabama engagement by drilling five furlongs in 59.06 seconds over Saratoga's main track. Spun Sugar worked in company with Isola Piu Bella, who was timed in 59.01. Isola Piu Bella is a candidate for the Personal Ensign Handicap on Aug. 26.
A field of seven is expected for the Alabama - Dance Away Capote, For All We Know, R Lady Joy, Ready and Alluring, Sis City, and Sweet Symphony.
Dance Away Capote gets green light
Dance Away Capote, third in the Delaware Oaks in her last start, worked five furlongs Sunday in 1:01.80 over the main track. Trainer Graham Motion said the work convinced him to run Dance Away Capote in the 1 1/4-mile Alabama.
"I was leaving my decision to see how she worked," Motion said. "I have to take a shot; I don't think I will be more than third choice in there."
Motion won't second-guess himself
Motion said he had no regrets regarding his decision to run Better Talk Now in the Arlington Million, rather than the Sword Dancer Invitational here last Saturday.
Better Talk Now, the defending Breeders' Cup Turf champion, finished fourth in the Arlington Million after making a wide move in the stretch. He also was entered in the Sword Dancer, but Motion picked the Million because he preferred soft ground for Better Talk Now and wanted a fast pace for his late-runner.
The Sword Dancer was run over a course listed as good, and a speed duel developed between Relaxed Gesture and the winner, King's Drama.
Motion said he doesn't believe he would have won the Sword Dancer if he ran Better Talk Now there.
"We all were comfortable with our decision," Motion said. "I think we would have been lucky to have been third in the Sword Dancer with that pace scenario. I also question the listing of the course being good. I don't think the condition would have made enough difference."
Motion said that if Better Talk Now had better racing luck in the Million, where the course was yielding, he could have been second.
"Nobody was going to beat [Powerscourt]; he was very impressive," Motion said. "I thought we were unlucky not to be second."
Better Talk Now will be pointed to the Man o' War on Sept. 10 at Belmont Park, and then on to the Breeders' Cup there on Oct. 29.
King's Drama in search of easy money
Bobby Frankel said he will keep his options open with King's Drama, who became a Grade 1 winner in the Sword Dancer.
"He's a gelding, so wherever I can make money in the easier spots, I will run him there," said Frankel, who mentioned the Man o' War as a possible target.
Frankel said he has "a lot of fresh grass horses" in his barn who will be running in upcoming stakes races, including Greek Sun and Leroidesanimaux, both of whom worked at Saratoga on Monday. Leroidesanimaux is being pointed to the Fourstardave here on Travers Day, Aug. 27.
Flower Alley, Ashado work together
Graded stakes winners Flower Alley and Ashado worked five furlongs together on Sunday as they geared up for Grade 1 stakes races next week. Flower Alley, with Angel Cordero up, and Ashado, with John Velazquez up, were timed in 1:02.24. The two horses shaded 24 seconds for their final quarter.
"They went off a little bit slow the first eighth of a mile but finished very well and galloped out very strongly,'' Pletcher said. "I liked the finish and the way they galloped out, so it was good. Both horses are doing well and seem happy.''
Flower Alley, the Jim Dandy winner, is being pointed to the $1 million Travers. Ashado, last year's champion 3-year-old filly and winner of the Go for Wand here in her last start, is being pointed to the $400,000 Personal Ensign on Aug. 26.
Reverberate works toward Travers
Reverberate, runner-up in the Jim Dandy, worked a strong four furlongs in 47.46 seconds Monday morning in preparation for the Travers. Regular rider Jose Santos was aboard for the move.
"He went great. Jose was very, very pleased, and so was I,'' trainer Sal Russo said. "He seems like he's coming around at the right time.''
Reverberate, a son of Thunder Gulch, finished second in the Peter Pan in May before finishing 10th in the Belmont Stakes. He was beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Flower Alley in the Jim Dandy.
As of Monday, a field of six was expected for the Travers: Andromeda's Hero, Chekhov, Don't Get Mad, Flower Alley, Reverberate, and Roman Ruler.
Society Selection may go in Ballerina
In her first work since undergoing a minor throat operation, Society Selection drilled three furlongs in 35.47 seconds Monday morning over Saratoga's main track. It was the fastest of 14 moves at the distance.
"I thought she would go a little slower than that,'' trainer Allen Jerkens said. "When she feels good, she takes off.''
Jerkens said he would like to run Society Selection in the Grade 1 Ballerina here on Aug. 28, but has yet to discuss that option with owner Irv Cowan. Society Selection won the Grade 1 Test here last summer at seven furlongs.
Meanwhile, Jerkens said he couldn't find a plausible excuse for Smokume's last-place finish in Saturday's Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap.
"He gets affected by the heat a little bit,'' Jerkens said. "I could see him not winning; I couldn't see him finishing last.''
Silver Wagon possible for Forego
Silver Wagon, who won the Hopeful here in 2003, worked a half-mile in 51.76 seconds on the main track on Monday.
Ralph Ziadie, Silver Wagon's trainer, said it's possible that Silver Wagon will run in the Grade 1 Forego on Sept. 3. Silver Wagon, who hasn't run since finishing second in the Metropolitan Handicap on Memorial Day, was scratched from the Smile Sprint at Calder on July 10 because of a stone bruise in his left front foot. Ziadie said a fungus developed in the area of the stone bruise and the infection had to be cut out.
"We didn't miss much time, and he now has glue-on shoes," Ziadie said. "He worked easy and is doing excellent. We will look at the Forego, but it's day by day."
Rousing Victory takes turf marathon
Rousing Victory made a powerful move in the stretch to win Monday's $66,600 at Saratoga by 4 1/4 lengths over Stage Call.
Rousing Victory, the slight 5-2 favorite over Stage Call and Muqbil, was ridden by Javier Castellano.
Muqbil finished third, a neck behind Stage Call, in the seven-horse field of turf runners.
Rousing Victory ($7.10) covered the 1 5/8 miles over the firm Mellon turf in 2:40.94.
The ungraded John's Call was Rousing Victory's first stakes win. Phil Serpe trains Rousing Victory, a 4-year-old son of Victory Gallop, for Hilly Fields and Thomas Moran.
Wednesday bet menu shuffled
There will be no early pick four on Wednesday, but there will be five daily doubles offered on the 10-race card.
Daily doubles will be offered beginning with races 1, 2, 3, 6, and 9. The first two races on the card are steeplechase events. The pick six starts with race 5, and the lone pick four on the card starts with race 7.
- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson