Alabama Stakes exotics and Saratoga Late Pick 3 for Aug. 20
Top female three-year-olds Nest and Secret Oath will battle in the $600,000 Alabama S. (G1) in the 10th race on Saratoga's Saturday card.
Below we give you our best exotics plays for the 1 1/4-mile event, along with a full-field analysis, and build a Late Pick 3 ticket covering the final three races (9-11) on the card.
#1 Skratch Kat (30-1): The Arrogate filly will stretch out to 10 furlongs for the first time after running 1 1/16 miles in each of her five career starts. The closer flashed a career-high 94 Late Pace Brisnet Speed rating last out when winning an optional claimer at Churchill Downs on July 1, but her speed figures are far below the average winning speed for today’s distance. She’ll get a rider switch to Julien Leparoux, a 13% winner with routes who is 2-for-3 when paired up with trainer Phil Bauer, who is 6 3-1-0 this meet.
#2 Goddess of Fire (20-1): The A.P. Indy granddaughter has one career win, when breaking her maiden in a sprint at Saratoga in August 2021. The Todd Pletcher pupil competed in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks (G1) in May but faded to 11th of 14 and finished 11 lengths behind winner Secret Oath, who re-opposes here. Last out, she finished second by three-quarters of a length in the one-mile Wilton S. at this track. She’ll add blinkers in her second start off a layoff. John Velazquez will retain the mount.
#3 Gerrymander (7-2): The Chad Brown trainee was much the best in the Mother Goose (G2) at Belmont, winning by three lengths over next-out winner Shahama in the 1 1/16-mile race on June 25. The Into Mischief filly recorded a career-best 104 Speed rating, tied for the highest last race speed rating, and will keep Joel Rosario, a 22% winner this meet in the saddle. Rosario is 4-for-8 when teaming up with Brown, who has won 25% of his 106 races this meet. She’s posted several sharp five-furlong workouts at the Spa in July in preparation for her second Grade 1 event.
#4 Nest (1-2): The one to beat, Nest followed her second-place finish in the Belmont S. (G1) against the boys with a win in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) by an impressive 12 lengths over second-place finisher Secret Oath, and beat third-place runner Nostalgic by another three lengths in the nine-furlong event. Pletcher’s star filly will keep regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., a 31% winner with routes and a 24% winner with Pletcher.
#5 Nostalgic (12-1): Medaglia d’Oro filly Nostalgic has lost by a combined 26 lengths in her last two outings since winning the Gazelle (G3) at Aqueduct back in April. The Bill Mott pupil is making her second start off a layoff and will get a rider switch back to Jose Ortiz, who guided the three-year-old in the Gazelle and rode her to a 10th-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks two back.
#6 She’s Keen (30-1): The pacesetter moves up in class for trainer George Arnold after breaking her maiden at Saratoga in late July on her fifth try. Jose Lezcano will pick up the mount and is 16 5-1-2 in the last seven days. The Keen Ice daughter flashed an 80 BRIS figure in her win at 1 1/8 miles last out and should find the step up in class a bit too much.
#7 Secret Oath (4-1): The Kentucky Oaks hero had trouble with 1 3/16 miles when fourth in the Preakness (G1) and was outclassed by Nest last out in the Coaching Club American Oaks. It’s difficult to see her winning with the stretch out in distance, but she can contend for the minor awards for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Alabama S. exotics plays
Late Pick 3 ticket, races 9-11
Race 9: Smart N Fancy S., 5 1/2 furlongs, older fillies and mares on turf
#1 Change of Control (7-2) opened as the slight morning line favorite among a competitive field of 10 after winning the 5 1/2-furlong Andy Guest S. at Colonial Downs on July 18. The six-year-old mare will make her first start at Saratoga but carries a 22 7-6-4 record at today's distance.
We'll play her alongside #7 Illegal Smile (8-1), who was outkicked at the finish in the six-furlong Intercontinental (G3) but can improve with the cut back to 5 1/2 furlongs, a distance from which she is 7 2-3-0. Trainer Wesley Ward is also a 28% winner in non-graded stakes races and a 26% winner with horses coming off layoffs of 46-90 days.
We'll also add in #9 Caravel (4-1), who got off to a slow start as the favorite in the Caress (G3) at this track last out and finished last of nine. Trainer Brad Cox is a 31% winner with horses beaten as the favorite, and a rider switch to Luis Saez can improve Caravel's chances.
Race 10: Alabama S. (G1), 1 1/4 miles
We’ll single #4 Nest (1-2) in the main event on Saturday’s card.
Race 11: $35,000 claimer, 1 1/16 miles, three-year-olds and up on inner turf
In the final race of the evening, we'll fade the morning line favorite #7 Aviano (3-1), who came home last of nine in a 10-furlong allowance optional claimer off a two-month layoff and will now make his first start in 50 days.
Instead, we'll take our chances on #4 Wicked Fast (7-2), who will get a rider switch back to Jose Lezcano, who won with the three-year-old gelding two back in a 1 1/8-mile allowance at Belmont.
We'll also play #12 Box N Score (5-1), who may improve with blinkers back on and flashed a 105 Late Pace rating last out in a 1 1/8-mile optional claimer at Woodbine. The six-year-old has one win from one lifetime start at Saratoga, and trainer Jonathan Thomas is a 29% winner in first-time claimers and a 23% winner with turf starts.
- $5 Pick 3: 1, 7, 9 with 4 with 4, 12 ($30)