08/23/2012 4:28PM

Saratoga: Contested in strong position for Test Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Contested will cut back to seven furlongs for Saturday's Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Cutting back in distance, racing over what should be a fast track, and drawn toward the outside, Contested would appear to have all factors in her favor when she heads a 10-horse field in Saturday’s Grade, 1 $500,000 Test Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga.

Contested was riding a four-race winning streak entering the Grade 1 Mother Goose at Belmont Park on June 23. But she was attempting 1 1/16 miles for the first time, caught a drying out track officially labeled good, and was running four weeks after putting out two monster efforts in a 24-day span in May.

In the Mother Goose, Contested set solid early fractions, but folded and finished last as the 1-2 favorite.

“She ran flat, she didn’t bring it that day,” said Bob Baffert, who trains Contested for his wife, Jill. “I could tell she was in trouble when she wasn’t dragging him up there.”

Contested returned to Southern California and has put in a series of solid workouts over Del Mar’s synthetic surface in preparation for the Test.

Contested, who had the rail in the Acorn and post 2 in the Mother Goose, will break from post 8 in the 10-horse field, giving jockey Rafael Bejarano a good opportunity to see how the race unfolds. Contested won a maiden race at Santa Anita and the Eight Belles Stakes at Churchill when stalking from an outside post.

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“I’d rather be sitting in a stalking position, especially from the outside,” said Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s assistant who traveled here with Contested.

Book Review and Amie’s Dini are two of the more interesting upset candidates in the field.

Book Review has won two of her last three starts and was second to Questing – the subsequent Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama winner – in the other start. Book Review looked very good winning a first-level allowance over this track on opening day.

“She’s training good. I think she deserves a shot in there,” trainer Chad Brown said. “It’s not really my move to go from an allowance race into a Grade 1, but the way this division is right now, I’m not sure there’s a lot of difference between a Grade 1, Grade 2, or Grade 3.”

Brown was not thrilled with drawing post 3, but said jockey Javier Castellano “will have to work it out.”

Amie’s Dini cuts back to a one-turn race after competing in distance races such as the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks and 1 1/16-mile Delaware Oaks. Trainer Ron Moquett acknowledged those races were probably too far for Amie’s Dini.

“Now, we’re in a race that is at a better distance for her,” he said.

Amie’s Dini fired a bullet half-mile in 46.20 seconds over this track Aug. 18, a move that was “done on her own,” according to Moquett.

Amie’s Dini will break from psot 10 under David Cohen.

Aubby K, third in the Acorn and fourth in the Oaks, also should appreciate the cutback to seven furlongs, though she figures to have to deal with several other early speed types.

Well Kept, Yara, Beautiful But Blue, Jazzy Idea, Gypsy Robin, and Ullapool complete the field.