Waya heads trio of turf stakes on Whitney undercard

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Jen Caldwell

August 3rd, 2016

There are a trio of turf stakes on the Whitney Stakes (G1) undercard Saturday at Saratoga, including the $200,000 Waya Stakes (G3) featuring a field of 10 going 1 1/2 miles on the inner turf.

Real Smart and Photo Call will face off for the second straight time in the contest after running first and second, respectively, in the Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes (G3) on July 9 at Delaware Park.

"I'm happy with how she came out of the last race," trainer Graham Motion said of Real Smart. "She's improved each time I've run her. She's a filly we thought would be well-suited to running here and it seems to have shown."

Real Smart kicked off her career in Great Britain and made her U.S. debut a winning one at Belmont Park on May 13 in a 1 1/4-mile allowance/optional claimer. The Smart Strike four-year-old then finished third by a neck going nine furlongs and stretched out to 1 3/8 miles for the Robert G. Dick.

"I honestly wasn't looking to run her a mile and a half; every time I've run her, it's been at different distances. It's just the way the races have come up," Motion said. "But I think the mile and a half is well within her scope. This race seemed logical with regards to the rest of the year.

"She puts herself in the race," he added. "She's not a plodder by any means. She has a great turn-of-foot and Johnny can put her wherever he wants to."

Photo Call is no stranger to alternating distances for her trainer, Todd Pletcher. The Irish-bred Galileo mare scored in the 1 1/8-mile Violet Stakes (G3) last August before taking the 1 1/4-mile Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) next out. Coincidentally, both of those races came for Motion.

Photo Call was transferred to Pletcher following her fifth-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), and from four starts this year has scored in the 1 3/8-mile Orchid Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

Another who will probably relish this lengthy event is Suffused, who captured the 1 15/16-mile Belmont Coronation Invitational by 4 3/4 lengths on June 9 at Belmont Park.

"She's doing well and should be fresh," trainer Bill Mott said. "She has plenty of stamina as she showed in her last race, so (endurance) is not an issue."

A couple of races before the Waya, nine runners will line up in the $100,000 Lure Stakes going 1 1/16 miles on the turf at Saratoga.

Multiple Grade 1-placed Shining Copper is hoping to finally break through with a first stakes victory in the contest, which also features French Group 1 hero Ectot, who is making his U.S. bow in this spot; another French Group 1 victor in Full Mast; Canadian champion Conquest Typhoon; and last year’s Woody Stephens Stakes (G2) and Bay Shore Stakes (G3) winner March, who is unraced since a head second in the November 28 Hollywood Derby (G1).

Two races after the Waya, 12 distaffers will go a mile over the inner turf in the $100,000 De La Rose Stakes.

Photo Call photo courtesy of Benoit Photos