08/14/2013 2:37PM

Saratoga: Princess of Sylmar’s owner relishing Alabama moment

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Barbara D. Livingston
Princess of Sylmar is coming off of wins in the Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Three days before the 133rd renewal of the Alabama Stakes, Edward Stanco, owner of Princess of Sylmar, stood on the backstretch of Saratoga, gestured to the grandstand across the way, and smiled.

“This is Alabama week and she’s the star of the show,” Stanco said. “It’s so much fun. It’s overwhelming how much fun this is.”

Coming off of wins in the Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks, Princess of Sylmar is indeed the star of Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama, where she will have a chance to virtually cement the 3-year-old filly division title against five rivals.

Princess of Sylmar drew post 4 in a six-horse field that includes Black-Eyed Susan and Iowa Oaks winner Fiftyshadesofhay; listed stakes winners Tell a Great Story and Montana Native; Carnival Court, a half-sister to 2011 Alabama winner Royal Delta; and Galloping Giraffe.

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The Alabama, run at 1 1/4 miles, will go as race 10 on a 12-race card that includes the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational for males on turf. Both races will be televised on the NBC Sports Network in a one-hour show beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern.

It was back in February, following Princess of Sylmar’s seven-length win in the Busher Stakes over Aqueduct’s inner track – her fourth straight win – that Stanco allowed himself to go public with his desire to win the Alabama. As a long-time resident of nearby Schenectady, N.Y., Stanco held the Alabama in higher regard – even more so than the Kentucky Oaks.

“It’s the hometown track,” Stanco said. “Whenever I come up here, this has been the big summer filly race. A year ago I was up here Alabama day and watching Questing, and I had my son and my granddaughters with me.

“I just remember sitting there watching Questing burst through the stretch,” Stanco added. “I said, ‘My God, look at how good this filly is. This is unbelievable – what an event, what a performance.’ And to think we’re here now as the headliner is beyond anything I could ever imagine.”

Stanco did not necessarily envision winning the Kentucky Oaks, something Princess of Sylmar did at odds of 38-1 against a top-rated field. She returned to win the CCA Oaks by six lengths here on July 20.

“In a way it validated everything, not only for everyone else but for me in terms of wow she is really good,” Stanco said. “And we got a lawn jockey out of it. My one dream was to get one of those lawn jockeys. That one is sitting by The Post bar, so maybe we’ll get the one by the fountain.”

Stanco is waiting to see how the Alabama plays out before deciding what to do with the filly this fall. He mentioned Wednesday that the Alabama could be her last race of the year as he plans to race her in 2014.

“It could be,” Stanco said. “One at a time. We may give her a rest. I’d like to get a good 4-year-old season out of her, whatever that would take.”