Clairiere gets the upset nod in Coaching Club American Oaks
A compact field of four will go to post in the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday, and unbeaten Kentucky Oaks (G1) starlet #1 Malathaat (2-5) is the clear one to beat for conditioner Todd Pletcher.
The Shadwell Stable colorbearer has been sublime from five lifetime tries to date, and the bay daughter of Curlin is training like a horse that is ready to deliver another big performance on Saturday, as well. However, Malathaat could be a bit vulnerable in her initial race since May, and I will attempt to take down the heavy "chalk."
Steve Asmussen-trained #4 Clairiere (9-5) seems poised to give the favorite a very hard time while making her Saratoga bow. A top performer since her debut in October, the Grade 2 victress had an ideal prep for the Coaching Club American Oaks when rallying for a solid third in the recent Mother Goose (G1), which was a one-turn test at at Belmont Park. The Kentucky-bred wants two turns, and she should be dead-fit following a pair morning drills on the Oklahoma training track as of late.
Clairiere has earned healthy Brisnet Speed figures in her last two outings (100 and 99), and I expect another move forward in her second run off the layoff. If she takes to the surface like her dam Cavorting, who compiled four graded stakes triumphs at The Spa in four lifetime attempts, then Clairiere will be a menacing figure inside the final furlong on Saturday.
I expect jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. to put Clairiere into the race from the break on Saturday. The sophomore is not the smoothest gate horse in training, but in a race where the pace will be dawdling at best, she will always be in touch with her foes. An expected match race will develop early on between the top two morning-line choices, and I will side with the Stonestreet homebred to come out victorious.
- $40 exacta: 4 with 1 ($40)