08/30/2013 1:13PM

Saratoga: Pletcher pair bucking odds in Spinaway

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Barbara D. Livingston
Sweet Whiskey, front-running maiden winner under John Velazquez, will likely be on the lead in the Spinaway.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Todd Pletcher has won four editions of the Grade 1 Spinaway for 2-year-old fillies at Saratoga. None of the four has won it off just one previous start.

In fact, only three of the last 17 runnings of the Spinaway have been won by a filly coming off just one previous race.

Sunday, Pletcher will seek his fifth Spinaway trophy with two fillies having made just one start. Stopchargingmaria, a 5 1/2-length winner on opening day, and Sweet Whiskey, a 5 1/4-length winner on Aug. 11, will represent Pletcher in the $300,000 Spinaway, run at seven furlongs.

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“I think it takes an exceptional horse to do it,” said Pletcher, whose prior Spinaway successes have come with fillies making their third or fourth career starts. “It’s certainly been done over the years on occasion. I think both of these fillies have shown the type of quality that it takes to do that, but they’re going to need the right kind of trip and adapt to what looks like will be a fast pace scenario.”

Both Stopchargingmaria and Sweet Whiskey won 5 1/2-furlong races in front-end fashion. Pletcher believes Sweet Whiskey, a daughter of Old Fashioned owned by Alto Racing, is the faster of the two and will likely be on the lead breaking from post 9 under John Velazquez.

“I think she’s a speed horse. She’s got run on her mind,” Pletcher said. “From that post I think it’s possible she could stalk someone, but they’re going to need to be moving along in order for her to be stalking.”

Conversely, Pletcher feels Stopchargingmaria, a daughter of Tale of the Cat owned by Mike Repole, is more adaptable and could sit under Javier Castellano from post 6.

“I think she’s got a different mindset,” Pletcher said. “We sat her off a horse in the morning and she’s responded well to that. She’s trained like a filly with a lot of quality. I think she’s probably a little more adaptable than the other filly.”

[SARATOGA 2013: Complete meet coverage, exclusive DRF videos]

Brazen Persuasion and Bahnah, who dead-heated for the win in the Grade 3 Schuylerville here on opening day, are back in the Spinaway. Neither drew particularly well, with Brazen Persuasion breaking from the rail and Bahnah in post 2.

Scott Blasi, the assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, said Brazen Persuasion has had “no setbacks” since the Schuylerville. Blasi and Asmussen have combined to win three Spinaways.

“Everything’s gone as smooth as could be,” Blasi said. “Going seven-eighths, having a couple of races in you I think is always an advantage.”

Bret Calhoun, the trainer of Bahnah, believes it would have been easier for her filly to get seven furlongs had she drawn an outside post.

Designer Legs is 3 for 3 but didn’t get much credit for her victory in the Grade 2 Adirondack when she was put up by the stewards after Who’s In Town was disqualified for interference.

Art of the Game, trained by Nick Zito, was beaten 18 1/4 lengths by Stopchargingmaria when she broke poorly. She came back to win an Aug. 18 maiden race going 6 1/2 furlongs by 3 1/4 lengths.

Sweet Reason, trained by Leah Gyarmati, rallied from 18 lengths back to win a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race on Aug. 9 by 6 1/4 lengths in the slop.

Dancing House, a debut winner here on July 31, and True Blue Nation, a debut winner at Belmont who finished sixth in the Schuylerville, complete the field.

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