Sentiero Italia returns on Saratoga’s opening day

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

July 21st, 2016

Saratoga’s opening day highlights are the Lake George (G2) and Schuylerville (G3), but there’s some star power earlier in Friday’s 4TH race, courtesy of Sentiero Italia. Unraced since her fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), the Godolphin filly kicks off her 4-year-old campaign in a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance.

Sentiero Italia, a Medaglia d’Oro half-sister to Grade 1 winner Ashkal Way, notched her first stakes victory right here at the Spa last summer. After defeating Miss Temple City in the Lake Placid (G2), Sentiero Italia left her further behind when romping in the Sands Point (G2) at Belmont Park. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee was unable to duplicate those efforts in the Queen Elizabeth II (G1) at Keeneland, rallying belatedly for third to Her Emmynency and the hampered Miss Temple City. Sentiero Italia concluded her season by just missing third by a neck in the Breeders’ Cup.

While Sentiero Italia is the class of the field, and merits 8-5 favoritism, this isn’t necessarily an easy comeback spot. The Shug McGaughey-trained Tapitry, fourth to Sentiero Italia in the Sands Point, has since become more effective with a change to forward tactics. Second in the Beaugay (G3) two back, she never had a realistic shot when last early in the Just a Game (G1) on June 11. With former partner Jose Ortiz regaining the mount here after that one-race hiatus, the 9-5 second choice promises to make plenty use of her early dash.

Selenite, winner of the 2014 Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion S. at the Spa, represents the in-form barn of David Donk. Others of note are multiple stakes-placed Distorted Beauty, who sports a 4-2-1-0 local mark, and Darling Sky, third to Lady Shipman in the Coronation Cup over this course.

Friday observations:

Irish invader Diamond Fields brings some useful form into the Lake George. Back in May, she was second to Aidan O’Brien’s Washington DC (who’s recently finished third in the Commonwealth Cup [G1] at Royal Ascot and a solid fifth versus elders in the July Cup [G1]). As a daughter of Fastnet Rock, she enjoyed stretching out from sprints to a mile in the Sandringham at Royal Ascot and placed a fine second to Persuasive. Diamond Fields received a nifty collateral form boost at Del Mar last Sunday, when Barleysugar (previously runner-up to Persuasive in a handicap) crushed the Sandy Blue. Note that trainer Tommy Stack has launched successful raids on New York before, with Alexander Tango in the 2007 Garden City (G1) and 22-1 shot Waltzing Matilda in last summer’s New York (G2).

Pedigree factoids for the Schuylerville: Olive Branch is out of a full sister to Wilburn and a half-sister to Beethoven; Lightning Dove’s dam, Grade 2-placed multiple stakes winner Thunders Dove, captured the 2009 Addison Mallery at Saratoga; Sweet Loretta is out of a half-sister to Canadian champion Spring in the Air, and a descendant of Runnymede matriarch Kazadancoa; Made Me Shiver is by freshman sire Maclean’s Music and out of a full sister to Grade 1-winning millionaire Tiz Miz Sue; Summer Sally’s second dam is a full sister to Buzz My Bell, heroine of the 1983 Spinaway (G1) and Adirondack (G2) and the dam of 1996 Kentucky Derby (G1) star Grindstone; Platinum Spark comes from the first crop of champion juvenile Hansen; and Harlands Thunder counts as her granddam Stormy Pick, the 2000 Spinaway winner.

Pedigree factoids for the 2-year-old fillies in the 6TH: Seam, from the first crop of Union Rags, is a granddaughter of 2006 Matron (G1) winner Meadow Breeze (who is herself a half-sister to 2013 Arkansas Derby [G2] hero Overanalyze); Jumby Bay, a half-sister to current Gazelle (G2) runner-up Royal Obsession, is in turn out of a half-sister to Grade 1 vixen Magnificent Song; Sunday Gravy comes from a poorer branch of the family of Northern Dancer and Machiavellian; La Coronel is out of a Grade 3-placed half-sister to  2002 Amsterdam (G2) winner Listen Here; Bowie descends from the family of Hall of Famer Serena’s Song; Torrent is the first foal from multiple graded stakes performer Tidal Pool, the third-place finisher in the 2010 kentucky Oaks (G1); Special Risk is out of a full sister to Grade 1-winning juvenile Wicked Style; She’s Had Enough is from the first crop of Stay Thirsty and from the immediate family of recent Stars and Stripes (G3) victor Greengrassofyoming.

Sentiero Italia photo courtesy of NYRA/Coglianese Photography.