07/17/2013 2:58PM

Saratoga: Princess of Sylmar well rested for Coaching Club American Oaks

Tom Keyser
Princess of Sylmar, training at Saratoga, will use Saturday's Coaching Club American Oaks as a stepping-stone to next month's Alabama.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Away from the races since her 38-1 upset in the Kentucky Oaks 11 weeks ago, Princess of Sylmar returns to action Saturday against just four rivals in the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga, the first of 18 Grade 1 races to be run at the meet.

The 78-day layoff for Princess of Sylmar was by design, according to Todd Pletcher, who trains the Pennsylvania-bred filly for Ed Stanco’s King of Prussia Stable. With the primary goal for Princess of Sylmar being the Grade 1 Alabama here on Aug. 17, Pletcher wanted to follow a similar program that he designed for the filly during the winter when she had nine weeks between the Busher Stakes in February and the Grade 2 Gazelle in April, a race in which she finished second to Close Hatches. Four weeks later, Princess of Sylmar rallied from ninth to win the Oaks by one-half length over Beholder.

“Ed Stanco expressed to me a long time ago that he would really love to win the Alabama,” Pletcher said. “After the Kentucky Oaks we looked at the schedule and felt like if we were going to run twice [at Saratoga] it’d be a similar program to what she had when she had a bit of a break when she ran in the Gazelle and Kentucky Oaks.”

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

Mike Smith was aboard Princess of Sylmar for the Kentucky Oaks but he is committed to ride Royal Delta in Saturday’s Grade 1 Delaware Handicap. Javier Castellano, aboard for her Busher win, will ride Princess of Sylmar from post 4.

Pletcher will also send out Unlimited Budget in the Coaching Club. Unlimited Budget won her first four starts, including the Fair Grounds Oaks, before finishing third in the Kentucky Oaks. Most recently, Unlimited Budget finished sixth against the boys in the Belmont Stakes. John Velazquez rides Unlimited Budget from post 3.

My Happy Face, recent winner of an overnight stakes at Belmont; Cue the Moon, fourth in the Grade 1 Acorn; and Marathon Lady, third in the Grade 1 Mother Goose, complete the field.

Shuvee field in flux

Seven fillies and mares were entered Wednesday for Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Shuvee Handicap, but not that many are expected to run come post time.

Authenticity and Summer Applause, who figured to vie for favoritism in the Shuvee, were both cross-entered in Saturday’s Grade 1 Delaware Handicap.

Eblouissante, the undefeated half-sister to the champion Zenyatta, was also entered, but is expected to cross-enter in a second-level allowance scheduled for Monday. Eblouissante has not run since Jan. 17.

Authenticity, winner of the Grade 2 La Troienne, is coming off a runner-up finish to Tiz Miz Sue in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps. She drew post 7 and has John Velazquez named. When Tiz Miz Sue did not enter the Delaware Handicap, Pletcher decided to enter and take a look at which race might Authenticity might fit best.

Summer Applause hasn’t run since winning the Grade 3 Allaire duPont Distaff on May 18, which made the 1 1/8 miles of the Shuvee a little more appealing to trainer Chad Brown than the 1 1/4 miles of the Delaware Handicap.

Summer Applause drew post 6.

Also entered in the Shuvee are Royal Lahaina, Flashy American, Moon Philly, and Sea Island.

Hessonite back with statebreds

After two disappointing efforts in graded company, Hessonite returns to face New York-breds in Friday’s $100,000 On the Bus Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

Hessonite, who began the year with a victory in the Grade 3 Beaugay, has won her last four races when she has faced New York-breds, including two stakes victories here last summer.

Hessonite is running back just 17 days after finishing fourth in the Grade 3 James Penny Memorial at Parx. Trainer David Donk said the high humidity may have played a factor in Hessonite’s performance that day and he will monitor the heat expected here for Friday when temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90s.

“I’m more concerned about high humidity than the temperature per s e ,” Donk said. “We’ll monitor it on Friday. If it becomes a very uncomfortable situation, it’s something we’ll have to discuss.

“I do want to run,” Donk added. “She’s done very well. She was very sharp this morning. She had a pretty good breeze the other day. She ended up catching the company and finished well.”

Hessonite’s main competition figures to come from Shakeira, a winner of three straight, and Inimitable Romanee.

Velazquez nears milestone

Jockey John Velazquez, who won his 5,000th career race last month, is close to becoming the all-time winningest rider at Saratoga.

Velazquez enters the meet with 685 career victories at Saratoga, eight fewer than Jerry Bailey’s record of 693. Angel Cordero, the Hall of Fame rider who is also Velazquez’s agent, is third with 459 career wins.

“It’ll probably take me three years to do that now,” Velazquez joked on the backside Wednesday morning. “Just to be in the mix with [Bailey and Cordero] is special.”

Velazquez is a five-time leading rider in Saratoga, including back-to-back titles in 2010-11. He said he would be surprised if he’s in the running for leading rider this year as he plans to cut back somewhat on the number of mounts he accepts during the weekday cards.

“I won’t be riding nine or 10 a day, but I’ll be busy enough,” Velazquez said. “For the most part I want to be in the mix and get some nice horses for big races. If leading rider comes it’ll be a shocking thing because I’m not looking for it.”

Wolfendale slightly injured

Paddock analyst Maggie Wolfendale was watching turf workouts at the Oklahoma training center with her right leg propped up on a seat in the viewing stand on Wednesday, several hours after being kicked in the knee during a training hours mishap at the main track.

Wolfendale, who along with her paddock duties also exercises horses in the mornings for trainer Tom Morley, was accidentally kicked by a stable pony shortly before 6 a.m. on Wednesday. Her knee was noticeably swollen as she watched one of Morley’s horses breeze over the grass minutes after the turf course opened for training at 10 a.m.

“I’ve had ice on it all morning, took some Advil, and I just hope the swelling comes down over the next few days,” said Wolfendale.

Wolfendale, 26, joined the New York Racing Association broadcasting team in 2010. She has become a fixture in the paddock at Belmont, Aqueduct, and Saratoga on race days, analyzing the appearances of horses competing in every race for viewers on the NYRA broadcast network nationwide. A daughter of Maryland-based trainer Howard Wolfendale, she has been galloping horses for the past 10 years.

“I’ll be at my post in the paddock on opening day, you can be sure of that,” said Wolfendale. “I just may have to wear longer dresses for a while. The one bright side to this is since I won’t be able to get on horses until this heals, I will have more time to spend on my handicapping.”

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch