08/25/2012 12:53PM

Saratoga: Violette has strong hand in pair of $100K stakes


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Rick Violette looks to continue his successful Saratoga season when he sends out top contenders in both of Monday’s $100,000 stakes restricted to New York-breds.

In the Saratoga Dew, for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles, Violette starts the 124-pound highweight, Opus A, against six rivals. Earlier on the 10-race card, Violette will saddle Effie Trinket against five other statebred 2-year-old fillies in the Aristie at six furlongs.

Opus A, who has already won three restricted stakes at a mile or further this year, will attempt to rebound from a fourth-place finish in the Fleet Indian Stakes, a seven-furlong race, run here on Aug. 1.

“Trainer error,” Violette said. “Seven-eighths, I’ll never do it again. She was doing really, really well. There’s such a difference in the tempo of the race, and it’s not even just the speed because she’s done the one-turn mile [successfully].”

Opus A has drawn the rail but she has good early speed, though she must avoid an early pace battle with Harbor Mist, who is wheeling back 10 days after running third in an open-company restricted stakes.

“She carries a lot of weight here,” said Violette, whose 5-year-old mare concedes six to 10 pounds to the field. “There is some other pace in the race, but we don’t have to be on the lead. She’s stalked before. She’s really doing terrific. Her breeze the other day was awesome, and she galloped out great.”

Go Unbridled, trained by Allen Jerkens, will appreciate getting back around two turns after finishing fifth in the Fleet Indian. She finished third in this race last year, beaten a head by the winner, Mineralogist.

“She’s a route horse no question,” Jerkens said. “Every once in a while they can come on if they get big speed in front of them, but that didn’t happen. She’s been a bit disappointing this year, I hope she can pick it up this time.”

Great Gracie Dance returns to the dirt after a last-place finish on turf. Fiftyfour Forever, the only 3-year-old in the field, tries 1 1/8 miles for the first time. Alykela and Ginger Snapit complete the field.

Effie Trinket lived up to her 8-5 favoritism in a field of eight statebreds Aug. 10, splashing her way to a 4  3/4-length victory over a sloppy track.

“I think she handled the wet track – I don’t know that she absolutely loved it,” Violette said. “I think there’s room for improvement there too with the race under her belt. She’s been a very professional, talented filly. A few of us are running back on short rest, but she came out of the race good, has trained well, so there’s no reason not to run.”

Agilion won her debut three days after Effie Trinket, rallying from last in a seven-horse field and drawing off to win by 5 3/4 lengths. She is the only member of this field to have won at six furlongs.

“The first race was obviously a very solid performance, and she wasn’t all in to accomplish the task,” trainer John Kimmel said. “She settled well, circled the field, and drew off without any use of the stick. Obviously to run her back on a short turnaround is always a questionable thing, but it was such an easy race and she’s come back well.”

Zekes Surprise won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race at Belmont on June 27 after finishing third in her debut, which was run over a wet track. Golden Fire, Westerday, and My Smartness complete the field.