08/13/2012 3:26PM

Saratoga: Alabama Stakes may prove key to 3-year-old filly championship

Barbara D. Livingston
Believe You Can works five furlongs in 1:02.08 under Rosie Napravnik on Monday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – With four Grade 1 winners and seven graded stakes winners overall expected to be entered Wednesday when post positions are drawn, Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga is shaping up to be a key race in the battle for the 3-year-old filly championship.

“This is absolutely, without a doubt, a definitive race in that division,” said trainer Tony Dutrow, who will send out Florida Oaks and Delaware Oaks winner Grace Hall. “The winner will make a bold statement.”

Grace Hall, who won last year’s Spinaway here, is one of the four Grade 1 winners in the field. This year, she has won a pair of Grade 2 stakes and finished third behind Believe You Can in the Kentucky Oaks. Believe You Can will be in the Alabama as will Mother Goose winner Zo Impressive and Coaching Club American Oaks winner Questing. In Lingerie, the Black-Eyed Susan winner; Via Villaggio, the Railbird winner; Uptown Bertie, the Iowa Oaks winner; and Sea Island, a recent allowance winner, also are expected to be entered Wednesday.

On Monday, Believe You Can had her second workout since arriving here from Kentucky, going five furlongs in 1:02.08, with a final quarter of 24.08 seconds under jockey Rosie Napravnik. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.60.

Trainer Larry Jones had a hard time later holding Believe You Can as she eagerly grazed on a patch of grass outside Barn 33.

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“You could tell she went home well and galloped out really well, it was a good move,” Jones said. “She galloped out much better than last Monday, she wasn’t real strong in that. But she had that mile work at Ellis and shipped, and we weren’t going to worry about that, but hoping today she would be back to her old self and it appeared that she was. And it looked like we worked up an appetite.”

Zo Impressive was credited with a five-furlong time in 1:01.90 on Monday after going off an easy eighth in 13.30.

Also working Monday for the Alabama was Sea Island, who went a half-mile in 48.20, the fastest of 36 works at the distance over the Oklahoma training track.

On Sunday, Grace Hall worked four furlong in 49.80 seconds at Delaware Park before shipping to Saratoga on Monday. In Lingerie worked four furlongs in 48.83 seconds over the Oklahoma training track.