2014 Adirondack and Saratoga Special Preview

Paul began our weekend jaunt to Saratoga with some grass races: Friday’s National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (GII) for three-year-olds, and Saturday’s Fourstardave Handicap (GII) for the older crowd. On Sunday, August 10, the graded stakes action at the Spa moves to the dirt, and the focus shifts to the juveniles.

The Adirondack Stakes (GII) is named after the Adirondack mountain range, which runs near Saratoga.  The race was first run in 1901, and originally not sex-restricted.  It has been fillies-only since 1930.  The Adirondack has been run at its current six and a half furlong distance since 1994, with the exception of 2004 (not run) and 2005 (six furlongs).

A fixture since 1901, the Saratoga Special (GII) was originally a winner-take-all affair.  In 1959 it shifted to a more traditional stakes structure, which has been the case ever since.  The race was originally contested at shorter distances: five and a half furlongs from 1901-1905, and a flat six furlongs from 1906-1993.  Since 1994, it has been run at its current distance of six and a half furlongs.

Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the Saratoga Special from 5:00pm-6:30pm Eastern.

Morning line odds were not available at original publish time.   Updated on August 8 to include morning lines.

Adirondack Stakes (GII): two-year-old fillies, six and a half furlongs over the dirt, post time 5:27pm EDT

As often happens with two-year-old stakes races at this time of year, this race features a gathering of promising runners, most of whom have not been tested yet.  The only horse who comes into this race with a loss at all is Take Charge Brandi, who finished second behind Fashion Alert in the Schuylerville Stakes (GIII).  That race also makes her the only one with graded stakes experience.  However, she has also shown a tendency to want the front early in both of her races.  She was the victim of a speed duel with Fashion Alert last out, and could fall into a similar duel with Cavorting or Vivian Da Bling here.  With all this speed, this race looks like a prime opportunity for an off-the-pace filly to shine.  Angela Renee, the Todd Pletcher production, started off a few lengths off the pace before moving up to engage and pass next-out winner Sunday Sonnet.  Though Sunday Sonnet’s win was against a short field that was washed from the turf to the mud, it still showed she was a good enough runner to help validate the horse who beat her.  Angela Renee has not yet raced at Saratoga, but her worktab has been regular and strong.  The stretch from five furlongs to six and a half should not faze her, either: as she is by Bernardini out of a Deputy Minister mare, six and a half furlongs is likely the low end of what she may want.  Wonder Gal is another in the field who could be able to take advantage if the pace gets hot up front.  She trounced a field of New York bred fillies on July 6 in the Lynwood Stakes in her only start, at six furlongs over the Belmont dirt.  She faces a class rise here, but her last-to-first move was so strong that it was hard to believe she was a first time starter, not to mention one with an apprentice rider aboard.  Taylor Rice keeps the mount here.  If they build on that performance, they will be more than competitive in this open stakes company.  Like Angela Renee, she has not raced yet over the Saratoga course, but has put up strong enough works to suggest she will handle the track.  Among the speedy types, Take Charge Brandi gets the nod based on experience.  She has raced twice, and she was good enough to make Fashion Alert work for her Schuylerville win.  She will have enough speed to be up front early, and the tenacity not to wilt if she is challenged.

Selections:

#3 ANGELA RENEE (5/2)

#1 WONDER GAL (3/1)

#4 TAKE CHARGE BRANDI (10/1)

Longshot:  #6 VIVIAN DA BLING (4/1) is taking a steep jump in class here, having racked up two decisive wins against weaker at Lone Star.  She has shown enough early speed in those races to suggest that she could run with Take Charge Brandi and Cavorting early.  The question, of course, is whether she will have the tenacity to stick with them late; those two are not the soft company she has faced in Texas.  What makes Vivian Da Bling particularly fascinating is the jockey factor.  Rosie Napravnik frequently rides plum mounts for Steve Asmussen, and rode Empressive Humor to her maiden win at the Spa last month.  However, Napravnik rides Vivian Da Bling here instead.  Napravnik has won at a 20% clip this meet, and rides well with speed horses and sprints.  If Vivian Da Bling can handle the classier company, Napravnik could get her on the board at a nice price.

Saratoga Special (GII), two-year-olds, six and a half furlongs over the dirt, post time 6:04pm EDT

Not many horses have shown as much just two races into their careers as Mr. Z has.  In his debut, he survived a race-long duel on the front end to win by half a length.  Third in that race was none other than Hashtag Bourbon, who broke his maiden impressively in the Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes next out.  He returned in the Sanford Stakes (GIII), and ran a completely different race shape there.  He started about half a dozen lengths off the pace and made a sustained run.  Despite having to check hard behind a fading rival and then bumping around down the stretch, he still managed to finish second beaten just a neck.  The ability to come from off the pace should come in very handy here since much of the field, likely led by Cinco Charlie and Tizcano, could be clamoring for the front.  Mr. Z has versatility, tenacity, and enough speed to do well in this field.  Another who looks like he is in a good position to take advantage of the field getting frisky on the front end is I Spent It.  This colt is facing stakes company for the first time, but showed good late run in his maiden win.  That race was just five furlongs; six and a half seems a reasonable order as he is by Super Saver out of a Sky Mesa mare.  This will be his first race at the Spa, but his recent bullet work suggests he can handle the surface.  He keeps jockey Javier Castellano, and runs for Anthony Dutrow: a trainer who has won four of his sixteen starts this meet.  Finally, if anyone on this field gets the job done from the front end, look to Cinco Charlie.  This colt has three races under his belt, including two graded stakes: a win in the Bashford Manor (GIII), and a third-place finish in the Sanford (GIII).  In both races he duelled for speed early, and in both he ran gamely to the wire.  This should serve him well here, as he is likely to again face a challenge for the front.

Selections:

#3 MR. Z (5/1)

#1 I SPENT IT (7/2)

#7 CINCO CHARLIE (9/2)

Longshot:  #9 CLEVELAND SOUND (15/1) takes a big jump in class here, since his only race to date was a maiden win at Delaware.  However, he runs for a barn who has seen no shortage of success shipping his mid-Atlantic runners to Saratoga: Graham Motion.  Cleveland Sound survived a race-long duel with Legal Punch, finally pulling away late.  Even more interesting is the horse who finished third in this race: Pride of Stride.  Pride of Stride, another Graham Motion trainee, shipped off to Saratoga as well and won a maiden special weight on the Whitney undercard.  Cleveland Sound will have to step up his speed compared to his last outing to run with company like Cinco Charlie and Tizcano, or he will have to prove he can run off the pace.  Still, the More Than Ready colt should handle six and a half furlongs quite well, and Motion should have him ready to face tougher company.

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