08/01/2013 2:27PM

Saratoga: De La Rose a pivotal race for Laugh Out Loud

Benoit & Associates
Open Water, winning the Marjorie Everett Handicap on Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park, switches to turf for the De La Rose at Saratoga.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Saturday’s $100,000 De La Rose Stakes is ungraded and restricted to filly and mares who have not won a graded stakes on turf this season. But for Group 2 winner Laugh Out Loud, the one-mile overnight stakes could be a career-defining race.

For handicappers, Laugh Out Loud is likely the key to the De La Rose, which drew a field of eight female turf specialists, including graded stakes winners Open Water and Ruthenia.

Laugh Out Loud won 4 of 9 starts as a 3-year-old in 2012, including the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham at Chantilly in France, plus two stakes in her native England. But she has been a disappointment in her only two tries this season, including a dull performance in the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes in her U.S. debut over a yielding surface at Belmont Park in June.

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Laugh Out Loud was transferred to trainer Chad Brown’s barn shortly after the Just a Game, and while he is a little uncertain what to expect out of his filly on Saturday, he said he believes she will turn in an improved showing based on the way she has trained in recent weeks.

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“She’s doing really well, and it’s a logical spot,” Brown said. “I’m not certain why her two races this year were so poor. I wasn’t really involved with her until after the Just a Game. But she’s trained very well coming out of the race and I’m curious to see how she does for me. She has more than one race to run back to that would make her lay over this field and based on what I see in the morning, I’d expect her to run very well.

“She’s at a crossroads of her career here,” Brown added. “She’ll either run real well, and go back into another graded race, or if she can’t run well with these, then maybe she’s not the horse she was.”

Open Water hopes to improve on a fifth-place performance against high-priced optional claiming and allowance rivals when making her local bow on July 22. Open Water won the Grade 2 Marjorie Everett Handicap over the artificial surface at Betfair Hollywood Park in May and was Grade 1-placed as a 3-year old in the Del Mar Oaks.

Ruthenia finished third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Laughing in the Grade 3 Eatontown five weeks ago. Laughing returned to flatter that effort here last weekend with a victory in the Grade 1 Diana. Ruthenia, a late-running fourth in the Ballston Spa here a year ago, won the Grade 3 Violet at Monmouth Park in 2012.

Florida invaders Sweet Little Lion and Miss Montreal, 1-2, respectively, in Calder’s Hollywood Wildcat, have travelled 1,000 miles north to renew their acquaintances in the De La Rose.