A contentious field of 11 sophomore fillies seeks a Grade 2 victory and the winner’s share of $300,000 in Sunday’s Prioress S. at Saratoga, and leading the way is Cavorting (2-1 morning-line favorite).
That Bernardini filly holds the distinction of being two-for-two at both Saratoga and the six-furlong distance. She’s also four-for-four going less than a mile and is exiting an easy 2 1/2-length victory in the Test S. (G1).
“We just thought, ‘It’s straight three-year-old fillies, it’s here and she likes this track,'” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin shrugged. “Let’s give it a try and then we can go to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Cavorting came from last in the Test and found herself five wide entering the stretch. That didn’t stop her from seizing command and pulling away under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who returns for the mount on Sunday.
Some might point to Cavorting’s losses – well-beaten runs in the Frizette S. (G1) and Davona Dale S. (G2) – as proof the bay miss is not invincible, but McLaughlin has explanations for those efforts that don’t include the extended one-mile distance.
“(In the Frizette) it was really wet and standing water down inside and she didn’t run great,” he said. “Then we skipped the Breeders’ Cup and when she came back in the Davona Dale, that was the track that Frosted ran on that day and didn’t like.
“After that, we just tried to fill up the gas tank and point for the Jersey Girl, and she ran huge. And she was huge here. She’s been very talented, and she trains aggressively.”
Cavorting appears to be facing a stern test in the Prioress, once again going up against Bar of Gold (6-1) and Irish Jasper (5-1), the respective runner-up and fourth-placers from the Test S. Some past-form runners in Davona Dale winner Ekati’s Phaeton (20-1) and Grade 3 heroine Promise Me Silver (10-1) could shake things up a bit as well.
Bar of Gold and Irish Jasper will both be looking to turn the tables; the former after being caught on the lead and passed in the Test, and the latter for seeing her three-stakes win streak snapped.
“My filly came out of her race in good order, and we’re kind of looking forward to running her back,” said Bar of Gold’s trainer, John Kimmel. “She does have tactical speed, and maybe she got out there by herself (in the Test) and got a little bit lost; that might have factored in.
“Cavorting is a big, strong mare and (Bar of Gold) made a great finishing kick. For her to make that kind of closing move, you sure have to like her chances. Going back another furlong might shift the pendulum a bit in our direction.”
Sky Gold (12-1) joins Ekati’s Phaeton and Promise Me Silver as possible price horses. Ekati’s Phaeton has been beaten by double-digit lengths in her past two, but could be on the upswing after being off since May 1. Promise Me Silver also received a break, though not as long having last been seen running fifth in the Victory Ride S. (G3) on Independence Day.
Sky Gold, on the other hand, just finished second against older in an allowance/optional claimer at Monmouth Park on August 9. She earned a career-best 98 BRIS Speed rating, and is 2-2-0 from five career starts, with her only unplaced effort coming in her stakes bow in the July 19 Miss Woodford S.
“My plan was to run her in the Miss Woodford to prepare her for the Test, but she had a problem in that race,” trainer Jose Garoffalo explained. “She lost a shoe and didn’t run good. She came back in the allowance race and I used that as a prep for the Prioress. She ran a hell of a race, so I decided to bring her here. I’m very optimistic.”
Cavorting photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography