An outstanding field of nine sophomore fillies will go postward in the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday. The 1 1/14-miles feature attracted five standout graded stakes winners in what promises to be a most exciting affair.
The pace of the race will come from Ulele (#6) (8-1), Dunbar Road (#1) (8-5), Lady Apple (#2) (6-1) and potentially Street Band (#5) (10-1). If pilot Jose Ortiz sends Dunbar Road to the lead early on from the rail, I think it could be her coming-out party on Saturday.
From the back of the pack, Off Topic (#8) (10-1) gives the impression of a filly who will thrive at 10 furlongs. I will use her and Lady Apple for value in my vertical wagers.
$20 Win #1 Dunbar Road = $20
$10 Exacta 1 with 2,8 = $20
$1 Trifecta Key 1 with 2,7,8 with all = $21
DUNBAR ROAD (#1) (8-5) – Once-beaten Chad Brown pupil earned a whopping 116 BRIS Late Pace number en route to a stylish win in the Mother Goose (G2) last out. Fine prospect shows promising local works and could thrive going 1 1/4 miles for the initial time. Jose Ortiz will be atop the Quality Road filly.
LADY APPLE (#2) (6-1) – Steve Asmussen charge has won graded stakes in two of her last three, sandwiched around a third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Curlin filly has improved with each two-turn assignment and should enjoy a ground-saving trip throughout in this affair. Kentucky-bred has upset appeal under Ricardo Santana Jr.
AFLEET DESTINY (#3) (30-1) – Longshot has failed to hit the board in five straight appearances and faces a daunting task against a very deep field today. Hard Spun filly would be a shocker.
CHAMPAGNE ANYONE (#4) (10-1) – Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) victress comes off a fourth-place finish in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) in her Spa debut. Ian Wilkes trainee smoked a bullet five-eighths in the interim and figures to move forward second time off the layoff.
STREET BAND (#5) (10-1) – Multiple graded stakes queen was impressive in her Indiana Oaks (G3) romp off the shelf for conditioner Larry Jones. Istan three-year-old is very good on her best days and could be a major player with regular pilot Sophie Doyle in the silks.
ULELE (#6) (8-1) – Black-Eyed Susan (G2) runner-up finished in the same spot when beaten a half-length in the Iowa Oaks (G3) most recently. Improving Brad Cox pupil has gate presence and could be the leader early on beneath Joel Rosario.
POINT OF HONOR (#7) (5-2) – Classy Grade 2 heroine ran a huge second from off the pace in the Coaching Club behind a budding superstar. George Weaver trainee has a powerful turn of foot, and she might be the one to hold off late under Javier Castellano.
OFF TOPIC (#8) (10-1) – Consistent late runner from the Todd Pletcher barn was a respectable third in the Coaching Club and figures to improve with another furlong to work with in this affair. Dark bay filly will get up late for a minor award at a nice price. Manny Franco will ride one again.
KELSEY’S CROSS (#9) (15-1) – Bay filly gets a grueling post draw while widest of all in the field. Florida-bred has never run on the dirt, and this is a very demanding assignment against this particular cast.
PHOTO: Dunbar Road (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Elsa Lorieul