08/16/2013 4:52PM

Steven Crist's Saratoga graded stakes analysis: Alabama

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There’s no point belaboring the obvious virtues of Princess of Sylmar in Saturday’s Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, and to my mind no point trying to beat her.

She is substantially faster than her five opponents; she is the lone Grade 1 winner in the field, and already has won the Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks; she got a race over the Saratoga track winning the latter, and runs like the 10 furlongs will suit her just fine. That’s a potent four-punch of speed, class, surface, and distance.  I plan to single her in pick-whatevers.

If there’s any value in playing the race separately, it could be in trying to make someone more interesting than Fiftyshadesofhay run second. She is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line behind Princess of Sylmar at 3-5, and the others are double digits. Granted, Fiftyshadesofhay is far more accomplished, and a little faster, than the other four, but she has had 10 starts to get there and seems to have hit a plateau with less chance of sharp improvement than a Carnival Court  (15-1) or Galloping Giraffe (20-1), both making their fourth career starts.

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