SARATOGA SPRINGS – Tomorrow’s opening day at Saratoga features the traditional Grade 3 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies. The eighth race on the 10-race card kicks off the graded stakes schedule of the 40-day meeting. The 6-furlong race has attracted nine fillies that will run for the $200,000 purse.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will seek his sixth career Schuylerville victory with Sweet Loretta (6-1). Of the nine starters, seven are coming off maiden victories. The two others are coming out of the highly regarded non-graded Astoria at Belmont Park won by Bode’s Dream.
The other graded stake on the card is the $200,000 Grade 2 Lake George, to be run on the outer turf course at 1 1/6-miles. The Lake George will be run as Race 9 immediately following the Schuylerville.
Let’s take a look at the contenders of the G3 Schuylerville (post position, trainer, jockey, ML odds in parenthesis):
1 – Olive Branch (Violette Jr., Ortiz, 3-1) This Speightstown filly won back in May at Belmont, but has been on the sidelines for two months. Favorable post in sprint races at the Spa and has a sharp workout at Belmont. Retains Belmont spring meet leading rider Jose Ortiz.
2 – Inspired Flight (Schoenthal, Prado, 15-1) Laurel shipper steps into the big leagues for trainer/owner Schoenthal. Prado gets the mount on the Orientate filly that has a sharp workout tab since her maiden breaker on July 1.
3 – Lightning Dove (Ward, Rosario, 8-1) Highest speed figure in the field finishing fifth in the highly-competitive Astoria after suffering a bad break. She won at Keeneland in the spring at 4 1/2-furlongs for trainer Ward. Daughter of red-hot sire Uncle Mo with a decent break could contend for a piece.
4 – Sweet Loretta (Pletcher, Velazquez, 6-1) Dominant seven-length win at Monmouth in debut with Paco Lopez aboard. Hall of Famer Johnny V takes over at the Spa for the trainer who has had huge success in this race. The daughter of Tapit out of a Bluegrass Cat mare was a $750,000 purchase at the 2014 Keeneland November sale. Contender.
5 – Made Me Shiver (Asmussen, Ortiz Jr., 5-2) Hill ‘n’ Dale filly ran off under the Twin Spires in June in her maiden win at nearly 8-1 by open lengths. There’s a little known fact about her sire, Maclean’s Music. He won his one and only race, a 6-furlong maiden at Santa Anita, earning the highest debut Beyer in history (114). She gets top jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the saddle. Dangerous.
6 – Summer Sally (Rodriguez, Bravo, 20-1) Daughter of Ghostzapper broker her maiden in early May at Belmont on an off track. Modest speed figure for filly coming out of a barn who excels much better downstate. Has the pedigree, but tough to back off last effort. Passing.
7 – Platinum Spark (Donk, Franco, 7-2) Looked two other fillies in the eye to win debut at 5 ½-furlong maiden at Belmont. Bullet work on July 16 suggests she is ready to roll. Daughter of Hansen, a figure on the 2012 Derby trail. The pick.
8 – Fun (Wilkes, Alvarado, 20-1) Daughter of Harlan’s Holiday adds lasix for the first time. She comes out of a maiden win at Churchill three weeks ago where she closed late on two rivals. If speed duel develops she could pick up the pieces late.
9 – Harlands Thunder (Mott, Geroux, 10-1) Adds lasix coming out of disappointing finish in the Astoria after impressive maiden breaker at Churchill. Blowout 3-furlong bullet work on Tuesday in preparation by trainer Mott, who has a low win percentage in 2-year-old stakes. Outside post doesn’t help. Siding with others.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Platinum Spark; 2 – Made Me Shiver; 3 – Sweet Loretta; and 4 – Lightning Dove
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.