Updated on 08/18/2013 11:50PM

Saratoga: Princess of Sylmar dominates Alabama to stay atop division

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Michael Amoruso
Princess of Sylmar and Javier Castellano are clear winners of the Alabama.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - At a track nicknamed the “Graveyard of Champions,” one may have been crowned Saturday.

 With a four-wide sweep to the lead approaching the quarter pole, Princess of Sylmar galloped through the Saratoga stretch to a 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes. Fiftyshadesofhay, part of the early pace, was second, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Carnival Court. Galloping Giraffe and Montana Native completed the order of finish.

 Princess of Sylmar added the Alabama to a resume that includes the Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks. It could be enough to clinch an Eclipse Award as the champion 3-year-old filly.

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

 “That’s a pretty hard trifecta to win, so I’d say she certainly established herself as the champion 3-year-old filly unless somebody does something [in the fall],” said Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Princess of Sylmar, who won his first Alabama in his 10th appearance in the race.

 Princess of Sylmar, who also won the Busher and Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct during the winter, may be absent from the fall, and most certainly will not be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic as she is not Breeders’ Cup nominated. There is the $1 million Cotillion at Parx on Sept. 21, and that race - or a possible end to Princess of Sylmar’s 3-year-old campaign - will be discussed between Pletcher and owner/breeder Edward Stanco.

 “I don’t think we’ll make a decision right away - never make a decision right after a race,” Pletcher said. “Ed’s committed to running her next year and who knows, maybe as a 5-year-old. At some point you don’t want to be greedy and take care of her. At the same time she’s doing unbelievably well. Sometimes you got to take advantage of that. We got some thinking to do.”

 Princess of Sylmar was perhaps up a little bit closer than expected, as she pulled Javier Castellano to within two lengths of the early lead set by Carnival Court and prompted by Montana Native and Fiftyshadesofhay. The half-mile was run in a modest 48.16 seconds.

 “There wasn’t a whole lot of pace on. She was doing it on her own. She was in a nice rhythm so I thought we were in a perfect spot, really,” Pletcher said.

 Castellano kept Princess of Sylmar tucked in behind the trio of horses before launching a four-wide bid around the far turn. She seized control just outside the quarter pole and was a pretty handy winner from there. Princess of Sylmar, a daughter of Majestic Warrior owned and bred by Stanco, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.21 and returned $3 as the odds-on favorite.

 “When she was ready to go, I maybe asked her a little bit just to put her in the daylight and she took off and she went past the horses like nothing,” Castellano said.

 “I thought she won pretty convincingly,” Pletcher said. “Anytime you run a mile and a quarter it can be a taxing race. I thought she did it very much within herself.”

 Stanco, a longtime resident of nearby Schenectady, N.Y., said back in February - after Princess of Sylmar won the Busanda and Busher Stakes over Aqueduct’s inner track - that the Alabama was his goal.

 “Today is obviously incredible special,” Stanco said. “It’s the best day of our lives in horse racing.”