From the Spa: July 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
The second Saturday of the 2022 Saratoga meet has two graded stakes races in the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks and the Grade III Caress Stakes. The Oaks runs a small five horse field of Kentucky bred fillies who are likely aiming for the Alabama Stakes later in the meet, including Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath and Belmont runner-up Nest. The Caress has a more robust field of ten, with the winner from last year, the Pennsylvania bred Caravel, looking to defend her victory against some very capable fillies and mares. Let’s take a deeper look into the Caress and our Midlantic bred stakes runners.
A lot has changed for Caravel since last year’s two and a half length Caress victory, with two trainer changes and an owner change to Qatar Racing, Marc Detampel and Madaket Stables, LLC who purchased her for half a million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Mixed Sale in November. This five year old mare by Mizzen Mast – Zeezee Zoomzoom, by Congrats keeps changing hands, but the results have largely remained. She has two wins this year after switching from the Motion barn to the Cox barn, and has employed more of an aggressive racing approach by grabbing early leads in those wins. That running style may be more difficult in this field with others who need the front to have a chance, but Caravel has proven to win in multiple ways, boasting a five for eight record at this sprint distance on the turf. Still, getting away from the inside post will be vital here for jockey Tyler Gaffalione, as he looks to fend off Robin Sparkles who was the main competition for Caravel in last year’s Caress. Bred by Elizabeth M. Merryman, who was her original trainer and owner, Caravel will start as the morning line favorite with odds of 5/2 here.
Breaking to the outside of Caravel from the two post is Miss J McKay, a more tepid 6/1 morning line mare who returns to the Spa for the first time in two years. Bred in Maryland by Linda Oliff Rohleder, this five year old is also co-owned by Madaket Stables LLC, along with Wonder Stables, Tony Weintraub, and Brandon M. Dalinka. Miss J McKay most recently finished eighth in the Grade III Intercontinental Stakes at Belmont which was won by Caravel, but otherwise appears to be in good form, coming off two bullet works and an impressive stakes win two back. Jockey Irad Ortiz replaces Joel Rosario for conditioner Christophe Clement, and may have Miss J McKay a bit closer to the action this time as compared to her usual mid-pack closing style. No matter where she is positioned early, this clearly isn’t one to be overlooked in this spot as she has proven to be a consistent finisher throughout her career. Miss J McKay is by Hangover Kid – Ballykiss, by Street Boss.