07/21/2011 2:19PM

Saratoga: Any of five fillies capable of taking Coaching Club American Oaks

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Barbara D. Livingston
Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty is part of a small but deep field in the CCA Oaks.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Perhaps the best illustration of how competitive Saturday’s $250,000 Coaching Club American Oaks came up is this: New York Racing Association linemaker Eric Donovan made Joyful Victory, the 2-1 favorite in the Kentucky Oaks and odds-on choice in the Mother Goose, the 6-1 longest shot in the five-horse field set to contest the first Grade 1 of the Saratoga meet.

“I guess it’s a handicapper’s dream; it looks like anybody could jump up on their day and win it,” said Bill Mott, the trainer of 2-1 morning-line favorite Royal Delta, winner of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in her last start.

Royal Delta is ranked second on Daily Racing Form’s Watchmaker Watch – a top 10 divisional ranking established by DRF ’s national handicapper Mike Watchmaker. The field includes Acorn winner It’s Tricky (No. 3), Mother Goose winner Buster’s Ready (No. 4), Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty (No. 5), and multiple graded stakes winner Joyful Victory (No. 3).

The Coaching Club, run at 1 1/8 miles, will be race 10 of an 11-race Saturday card that begins at 1 p.m. Eastern. The race will be televised live on NBC Sports (5-6 p.m.), the first of eight one-hour shows that will be broadcast from here this summer on either NBC or Versus.

Royal Delta, a daughter of Empire Maker, has won 3 of 4 starts including a dominant 2 1/2-length victory in the Black-Eyed Susan over Buster’s Ready. While Buster’s Ready came back to win the Mother Goose by 4 1/4 lengths, Royal Delta missed that race due to a bruised hind foot.

Mott said missing the Mother Goose may be “a blessing in disguise” because Royal Delta will be a fresher filly for the Coaching Club and the Grade 1, $500,000 Alabama here on Aug. 20. Mott said he doesn’t believe Royal Delta lost any conditioning from the four or five days of training she missed due to the foot issue.

“She puts plenty into her gallops,” said Mott, who won the 1997 Coaching Club with Ajina. “She’s not a big, heavy filly; she’s pretty athletic. I just get the sense that conditioning-wise we should be in pretty good shape.”

Royal Delta will break from post 4 under Jose Lezcano.

Plum Pretty won the Kentucky Oaks at odds of 6-1, defeating St John’s River and Zazu. St. John’s River came back to win the Delaware Oaks. Zazu defeated Plum Pretty in the Hollywood Oaks last month.

Trainer Bob Baffert ran Plum Pretty in the Hollywood Oaks only after canceling plans to ship the filly to New York for the Mother Goose. Baffert said that Plum Pretty was “a little bit quiet and flat” before she was to ship to New York so he elected not to put her on a flight.

“She’s doing really well now,” Baffert said Thursday from California. “She worked the other day like her old self. She’s sitting on a good race. When they tip you off, you better put them on a plane.”

Martin Garcia is here to ride Plum Pretty from post 2.

Buster’s Ready dueled on the lead in the Mother Goose before drawing away.

“Obviously, that was her biggest win, although she ran a big race in the Black-Eyed Susan,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won this race four times, including last year with Devil May Care. “Hopefully, she’s one that’s getting better as she gets older.’’

Buster’s Ready will break from the rail under John Velazquez.

It’s Tricky bounced back from a fourth-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Oaks with an authoritative 3 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Acorn in the mud at Belmont on June 11. She has won twice around two turns, but both those wins were over Aqueduct’s inner track.

Kiaran McLaughlin has always said It’s Tricky can be a handful to train and the fact she acted so proper in south Florida turned out to be a bad sign. On Thursday, McLaughlin liked what he saw from his filly.

“Today, she wheeled away from the pony and almost dropped the rider so she’s acting the same as she has in New York,” McLaughlin said. “She’s tricky. Two turns shouldn’t be an issue but you never know because her two-turn wins were an Aqueduct allowance and the Busher.”

After dominant wins in the Honeybee and Fantasy, Joyful Victory was a troubled fourth in the Kentucky Oaks but was all-out to nip R Gypsy Gold for second in the Mother Goose.