How to bet the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
The $600,000 Alabama (G1) is the Saturday headliner on a 10-race card at Saratoga. The 1 1/4-mile event over the main track drew a field of eight three-year-old fillies led by 7-5-morning line favorite #3 Midnight Bisou.
The daughter of Midnight Lute moved to the Steve Asmussen barn after her late running third place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) the first Friday in May. Midnight Bisou bounced back from the defeat in Louisville in a big way on June 30 with an impressive six length romp in the Mother Goose (G2) at Belmont Park and was given a chance by many to "turn the tables" on Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl, but she was turned away in the lane by the likely three-year-old champion filly.
The Bloom Racing Stable runner deserves to be the favorite in the Alabama, but her lack of early zip and concern that she may be at her best at shorter distances make her a vulnerable favorite. That being said, she is a must use in exotics and certainly is capable of beating this bunch.
#8 Talk Veuve to Me is listed as the 5-2 second choice by odds maker David Aragona. The Team Valor International filly has shown a ton of talent in her first five starts for trainer Rodolphe Brisset, but has only raced around two turns once and that was last time out versus lesser in the 1 1/16-mile Indiana Oaks (G3.) I love her talent and tactical speed, but whether she can get 10 furlongs is a question as she makes her first start at the Spa on Saturday.
#4 She's a Julie takes a step up in class after a dominating 5 1/2-length score last time out in the Iowa Oaks (G3.) The second half of the uncoupled Steve Asmussen entry has put forth three consecutive 90 plus BRIS speed ratings, including a career best 99 at Prairie Meadows last month, but like most in here her ability to get a mile and a quarter is the major question. She should find herself prominently placed in the early going and I cannot fault anyone for taking a shot with her at 9-2.
#2 Eskimo Kisses makes her second start of the summer for trainer Ken McPeek after a fourth-place effort in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1.) The daughter of To Honor and Serve lacks early speed, but has shown the ability to make up significant ground late when the race flow has been in her favor. Unfortunately for her connections that has not happened as of late. I am not sure she is good enough to get the best of this entire group in the lane in the Alabama, but with an expected honest first half-mile I think she is capable of picking up the pieces late and earning a minor share under Eclipse Award winning jockey Jose Ortiz, who picks up the mount for the initial time.
#6 Figarella's Queen and #7 Coach Rocks both could be involved early on, but if they were a factor late I would be surprised. #1 Piedi Bianchi and #5 Auspicious Babe appear in over their heads.
I will build my wagers in the Alabama around Eskimo Kisses finishing second or third. I can see Midnight Bisou, She's A Julie or Talk Veuve to Me winning, but do not trust any of them enough to key them on top. Here are my suggested wagers:
$5 Exacta Wheel
3+4+8 with 2 = $15
$3 Trifecta Wheel
3+4+8 with 3+4+8 with 2 = $18
$2 Trifecta Wheel
3+4+8 with 2 with 3+4+8 = $12
Total Budget = $45
(Midnight Bisou: Benoit Photos)