Lake Placid, Schuylerville headline Saratoga opener

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

July 21st, 2015

The most prestigious meeting in American racing, the 40-day stand at Saratoga, kicks off Friday with a 10-race program, which includes two graded stakes.

Saratoga's prestige is matched by its popularity with horseplayers, who bet an average of more than $1.3 million per race last year at the Spa, tops among all racetracks in North America.

One of the most appealing races, betting-wise, Friday is the featured $200,000 Lake Placid (G2) for three-year-old fillies. Twelve were entered in the Lake Placid, and the first thing handicappers will notice is the abundance of speed in the 1 1/16-mile dash on the Mellon turf.

The race serves as sort of a rematch between Feathered and Mrs McDougal, who last met in the May 30 American Oaks (G1) at Santa Anita. Feathered, who was coming off a victory in the Edgewood (G3), was hounded most of the way by Mrs McDougal in the 1 1/4-mile test, ultimately to the benefit of neither. Feathered faltered late to second, while Mrs McDougal weakened to fourth.

With Feathered breaking from post 10 and Mrs McDougal in post 9, others seem more likely to be doing the pace work. Likely candidates include Celestine, who took the Wild Applause and Wait a While overnight stakes at Belmont, and Cara Marie, recent winner of the $75,000 Indy Star at Indiana Grand. Another with early foot is Lady Zuzu, the multiple Grade 3-placed pacesetter in the Belmont Oaks (G1) earlier this month.

In addition to Mrs McDougal, trainer Chad Brown will also saddle Partisan Politics, winner of last year's P.G. Johnson at Saratoga and a sharp second in the June 14 Wild Applause in her season debut, and Sivoliere, who has yet to factor in three stakes appearances since her importation from France.

Trainer Graham Motion has entered Jellicle Ball, a Group 3-placed English import, for her U.S. debut, as well as My Year Is a Day, a French stakes winner who finished fifth in the Edgewood at Churchill Downs in her stateside bow.

One of the more intriguing entries is Mississippi Delta, who rallied from eight lengths back to win the $103,000 Alywow at Woodbine by three lengths going 6 1/2 furlongs June 14. The Mark Casse trainee has won three straight and could benefit from a hot pace stretching out here.

The field is rounded out by All in Fun, second to Miss Temple City in the Hilltop at Pimlico two months ago, and Robillard, who has won both of her grass starts for Goldolphin and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

The supporting feature is the $150,000 Schuylerville (G3) for juvenile fillies at six furlongs. Eventual divisional champion Take Charge Brandi was second in last year's Schuylerville, but you have to go back to Countess Diana in 1997 to find a Schuylerville winner who went on to take divisional honors (2002 winner Ashado was named champion at ages three and four).

Trainer Todd Pletcher is looking to equal his mentor D. Wayne Lukas' record of six Schuylerville victories. He'll be represented by Positively Royal, an odds-on debut winner at Belmont June 18.

Wesley Ward saddles likely favorite Moment Is Right, who captured the $225,000 Astoria on June 4 in wire-to-wire fashion over Decked Out, and Banree, most recently fifth against the boys in the $246,000 Tremont. Moment Is Right and Banree both defeated males in their maiden debuts, at Gulfstream and Keeneland, respectively.

Three-time Schuylerville winner Steve Asmussen has entered Areolite, third in the $100,000 Debutante at Churchill last time, and One Minute, who appears rather exposed already with one win in five starts.

If you're playing opening day at Saratoga this Friday, you might as well compete for a spot in Saturday's $10,000 contest in's all-Saratoga satellite.

For just $25 per entry, you can compete over the last eight races on Saratoga's opening day card for a chance to win a top prize of $5,000 on Saturday, plus one of two seats to the November 28 Handicapping Championship. Get FREE Brisnet PPs for Friday's contest here.

Also, the Caveman is shifting tack to Saratoga for opening week. Play along with him as he punches out his 4x4 tickets in the $500,000 Guaranteed Late Pick 4 at Saratoga.

Hit the Late Pick 4 on a day when the Caveman whiffs, and you will win or split $1,000 or more with all other winners on TwinSpires. If the Caveman hits, the $1,000 prize carries over to the next Pick 4 he plays. Visit the Caveman's Saratoga Lair for more details.

(Partisan Politics photo: Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)