Saratoga: Recent trends in Week 2 Saturday stakes

July 17th, 2023

The second Saturday of the Saratoga meet this week features two graded stakes: the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) for three-year-old fillies and the $200,000 Caress (G3), a turf sprint for older fillies and mares.

Here are some trends over the past decade to ponder in regards to both races.

Coaching Club American Oaks (G1)

Although a race with a rich and illustrious history, the Coaching Club American Oaks over the last decade has been more of a race in which to watch future champions strut their stuff, rather than a compelling betting opportunity.

Moved from Belmont to Saratoga and shortened to 1 1/8 miles in 2010, the average field size since 2013 has been 5.4 starters. Seven post-time favorites, including six odds-on choices, have won the last 10 renewals. These include eventual division champions Songbird (2016), Abel Tasman (2017), Monomoy Girl (2018), and Nest (2022).

Of the non-favorites to have won, two were sent off as the second choice. The one outlier was Maracuja, who inexplicably defeated odds-on choice Malathaat by a head in 2021 and paid $31.40 as the longest shot in a field of four.

If not for that setback by Malathaat, trainer Todd Pletcher would have trained five of the last 10 winners of the CCA Oaks.

Caress (G3)

This 5 1/2-furlong dash has been a more intriguing betting race. Its most notable winner in the last decade was Caravel, who won the 2021 renewal and is currently the top sprinter on grass in the country after beating males in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and Jaipur (G1) since last fall. 

Caravel is one of four favorites to have won the Caress in the last 10 years. The others include Miss Ella, who won the 2016 renewal that was rained off the turf and the 2017 edition that stayed on the grass.

Longshots have captured three of the last five runnings: Ruby Notion ($58.50, 2018), Mominou ($61.50, 2019), and Robin Sparkles ($44, 2022).

Monmouth Park has been a productive track in which to prep for the Caress. Silverette won in 2013 after running second in the Blue Sparkler S.; Mominou was coming off of a third in the Politely S.; and Caravel and Robin Sparkles finished first and third, respectively, in the Goldwood S.