Dacus: A look at Saratoga's opening week stakes action

July 15th, 2021

Saratoga’s 153rd season opens Thursday, and the meet’s first week begins with a bang, featuring six stakes races. Here’s a glimpse of the key contests.  

Quick Call S. (G3)

Stakes action at Saratoga opens with the Quick Call S. (G3), Thursday’s 5 1/2-furlong event for three-year-olds on turf, which drew a field of seven. Morning line favorite Golden Pal, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2), makes his sophomore debut. The son of Uncle Mo is trained by Wesley Ward and will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.

He will need to get past Jaxon Traveler, who has finished first or second in each of his seven career starts, including a second in the Chick Lang S. (G3) at Pimlico, and is trained by Steve Asmussen. Jose Ortiz will be in the irons. Kentucky Pharoah is also in the field. Fan favorite Fauci has been scratched (along with two who were entered on a main-track-only basis).

Schuylerville S. (G3)

The co-feature on Thursday’s card is a six-furlong test on dirt for two-year-old fillies. Happy Soul, the 8-5 favorite has been scratched. Now likely to vie for favoritism are Pretty Birdie and Mainstay, who won maiden special weights at Churchill and Monmouth, respectively, in their only career starts. 

Forbidden Apple S. (G3)

Friday’s key race is the Forbidden Apple S. (G3), at one mile on turf for four-year-olds and older. Value Proposition, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., leads the morning line, but Grade 1-placed Sacred Life, who seeks his first win of 2021, could provide formidable competition. Both are trained by Chad Brown, who also sends out Delaware in the field of ten.

Diana S. (G1)

Grade 1 competition begins Saturday with the Diana S. (G1), a $500,000 event on turf for fillies and mares four years old and older.

Just a Game S. (G1) winner Althiqa is at the top of the talented field. Fellow Charles Appleby trainee and international competitor Summer Romance could also be a threat. A handful of other horses are worth considering, including La Signare, who enters after finishing second by a half-length in Santa Anita’s Gamely S. (G1) on the last day of May, and Magic Attitude, winner of the Sheepshead Bay S. (G2) at Belmont, who seeks to bounce back after a disappointing finish in the New York S. (G2) on the same oval. Vigilantes Way, by Medaglia d’Oro, enters off a winning romp in the Eatontown S. (G3) at Monmouth.