Six juvenile fillies have been entered in Saturday’s $350,000 Spinaway S. (G1) at Saratoga and the focus will be on Rachel’s Valentina, who breaks from post 2 under John Velazquez.
The bay miss broke her maiden by two lengths and earned an 87 BRIS Speed rating, but that’s not the reason everyone’s going to be watching. The Todd Pletcher trainee is the second, and last, foal produced by Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra.
Rachel’s Valentina has a lot to live up to and got the ball rolling on August 2 at the Spa. In that six-furlong maiden, the filly broke a bit slow, circled the field from midpack and found herself widest of all on the turn. She ran down longtime pacesetter Awesome Dame and got the two-length victory late.
Rachel’s Valentina photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography
Now the Bernardini filly will go one more furlong in the seven-furlong Spinaway, and a win on Saturday would guarantee her a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on October 31 at Keeneland as the Spinaway is a “Win & You’re In” contest.
Only one filly in the Spinaway has gone beyond three-quarters, and that extended trip came to a total of 6 1/2 furlongs when Pletcher trainee Tonasah finished second in the Adirondack S. (G2) last out on August 15. Unlike her five-length romp in her debut the previous month, the bay miss yielded in the shadow of the wire after hooking up with Just Wicked and battling that gray rival the entirety of the stretch.
The only other Spinaway runner with prior stakes experience is Banree, who has gradually increased from 4 1/2 furlongs (four-length debut win), to 5 1/2 furlongs (Tremont S. fifth-placing), to six furlongs (Schuylerville S. (G3) runner-up). The gray lass earned a field-best 95 BRIS Speed rating for that last effort and has been working bullets ahead of this one. The Wesley Ward pupil could provide an upset at a nice price.
The rest of the Spinaway field is comprised of first-out maiden winners Tap to It (two-length heroine), Anna Rae (11-length romper) and Constellation (4 1/2-length scorer).
About four hours after the Spinaway, a much-larger field of 11 two-year-old fillies will head to the gate for the $300,000 Del Mar Debutante S. (G1) going seven furlongs. This contest appears to be much more competitive with numerous stakes-credentialed runners.
Among those is the top four from the August 12 Sorrento S. (G2) over the same Del Mar track. Pretty N Cool maintained her perfect mark in that 6 1/2-furlong affair, scoring by 2 3/4 lengths over Gomo, who in turn was 2 1/4 lengths up on One True Kiss. Right There was a distant 4 1/4 lengths farther back in fourth.
Pretty N Cool was the heavy 2-5 favorite that day and ran like it. She tracked Undisputed for the opening half-mile before easily taking command and pulling away to a four-length advantage, which Gomo cut into in the final strides as jockey Martin Garcia wrapped up on the winner.
Pretty N Cool photo courtesy of Benoit Photos
Pretty N Cool schooled the Sorrento field, and holds an advantage over those same rivals in this one. They appear to be her main opposition in the Debutante, as other challengers will have to overcome obstacles.
For example, Come to Mischief is exiting a six-length romp in her maiden debut, but that came over Woodbine’s synthetic Polytrack for trainer Nicholas Gonzalez. The bay miss will be trying dirt for the first time while starting for a new barn in Peter Walder.
Land Over Sea was a nice maiden winner when stretching out to a mile at Del Mar in her second try. However, that score occurred on the turf course. Stays in Vegas is two-for-two, with both coming in stakes. The stakes, though, took place at Pleasanton and Santa Rosa.
That really leaves Songbird and Surfside Tiara to put up a fight on Saturday. The former wired her maiden debut by 6 1/2 lengths while the latter broke her maiden second out by 5 1/4 lengths going 6 1/2 furlongs.
My Dynamo and Mitzi Winks complete the Debutante field.
Earlier at Del Mar, the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf will send an overflow field of 14 one-mile on the green.