From the Spa: August 23 Midlantic-breds in Saratoga stakes
by Joseph Aiello
“From the Spa” returns to keep you up-to-date on horses bred in the mid-Atlantic racing in Saratoga stakes.
Thursday, August 23rd features two stakes races at the Spa, a hurdle race in the first, and a mile turf race in the ninth. Both races have Mid-Atlantic entries, who have been winning at an impressive clip this summer in stakes tries. If the trend continues, these three entries should have no trouble navigating competitive fields, and find themselves in the mix at the wire. Let’s take a look at each entry.
In the first race, the two miles and three-eighths Grade I New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap, All the Way Jose returns from a fifth place finish in the Grade I A.P Smithwick Memorial on July 30th. Much like last year, this Pennsylvania bred will look to improve from a tough A.P. Smithwick with a rebound in this Handicap, a race in which he finished third a year ago for trainer and breeder Jonathan E. Sheppard. While Sheppard has been the trainer since this eight-year-old gelding’s first try, jockey Jack Doyle is new in the irons and will ride All the Way Jose in a stakes race for the first time. Even with these new connections, All the Way Jose sits at morning line odds of 20/1 for owners Buttonwood Farm, who hope their bay gelding can capture his second Grade I victory. All the Way Jose is by Senor Swinger – Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby.
The ninth race is the $100,000 Riskaverse Stakes for three-year-old fillies. In a well-stocked field of eleven, including a main-track-only, two fillies are Mid-Atlantic breds; one at morning line odds of 9/2, and the other at longer odds of 8/1. Starting with the heavier favorite of the two, Monte Crista is a Maryland bred running out of the five post. By Cape Blanco (IRE) – Aruban Sandwich, by Alphabet Soup, this chestnut filly was bred by Howard M. Bender Revocable Trust and is owned by Country Life Farm. With the connections of jockey Jose Ortiz and trainer Michael J. Trombetta, it is no wonder why this filly is at such favorable odds, but she still searches for her first stakes victory after coming up a bit short in her last try in the TaWee Stakes. In that race, she broke dead last as the post time favorite, only to rally for third by three-quarters of a length. While her ideal running style is seemingly to stalk the leaders, that near win showed her versatility and ability to recover despite a poor break. If Monte Crista breaks better this time, she will have every chance to contend and run down the leaders in the stretch.
The longer odds of these two, Ferdinanda, may appear to only have an outside chance in this race, but looking deeper into her tries this year make it clear that she can contend with this field. Already having won two races in six finishes this year, Ferdinanda will try to add to her record with the services of returning jockey Luis Saez, who again rides for trainer Barclay Tagg. Bred in Virginia by William M. Backer Revocable Trust, who is also the owner, this filly by Giant’s Causeway – My Mammy, by Came Home is coming off a strong workout a week ago at four furlongs in under forty-eight seconds, ranking fourth fastest of fifty-eight runners on the Saratoga dirt track that day. Not only does that work give a glimpse of her talent, but also proves that she is in good form and ready to take the next step in winning her first stakes race. While Ferdinanda will be stepping up in class since her last Optional Claiming race a month ago at the Spa, her comfort over this track as well as her record this year may allow her to surprise this field.