From the Spa: August 20 Midlantic-breds in Saratoga stakes

by | Aug 19, 2022 | Breaking, Racing, Regionwide | 1 comment

I Spent It wins the 2014 Saratoga Special. Photo by NYRA/Adam Coglianese.

by Joseph Aiello 

“From the Spa” returns to keep you up-to-date on horses bred in the mid-Atlantic racing in Saratoga stakes   

Saturday, August 20th is Alabama day at Saratoga which features three other stakes races on the card. While the Alabama holds a modest field of seven and no Midlantic runners, the race prior to the Grade I feature is the Smart N Fancy Stakes, with two Midlantic entries who ran here earlier this meet. After a month of some solid efforts by our Midlantic breds, yesterday saw the first victory for one in a stakes race this meet in Leader of the Band. The Summer Colony winner may have been the water that breaks the dam for these out of town shippers, as Pennsylvania bred Caravel and Maryland bred Miss J McKay look to make it two days in a row with a Midlantic runner tackling the more familiar New York and Kentucky bred horses.

Both Caravel and Miss J McKay come out of the Grade III Caress Stakes on July 23rd where they finished ninth and fourth respectively. Even as highly touted runners in that field that disappointed, they both remain as respectable 4/1 morning line choices this time around, with a need to break a bit better and remain closer to the usual pace-setter Robin Sparkles. In the Caress, Robin Sparkles got early cushion at odds of 21/1 and took Caravel, Miss J McKay, and six others all the way around. This time, she is likely to face more pressure, which could bode well for these two Midlantic challengers. Top flight connections also give Caravel and Miss J McKay good winning chances here, with strong jockey trainer combos to chase the early leaders.

From the six post in the Smart N Fancy is Miss J McKay, a five year old bay mare by Hangover Kid – Ballykiss, by Street Boss. Miss J McKay broke third to last in the Caress only to pick up nearly five lengths in the stretch to finish fourth by a close three quarters. She keeps Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons for trainer Christophe Clement, and comes off two straight grade III races which puts her among the classiest of this field. She also has fared well at this five and a half furlong distance on the turf, winning two of six lifetime with two more in the money. With what looks like plenty of pace in here, Irad Ortiz will likely have Miss J McKay closing from the back of the pack, but should have her a bit closer position wise this time around. As a relatively consistent runner and strong finisher, it makes sense why Miss J McKay is one of the top choices in this field and likely to garner respect from the betting public. Miss J McKay was bred by Linda Oliff Rohleder and is owned by Madaket Stables LLC, Wonder Stables, Tony Weintraub and Brandon M. Dalinka.

Breaking from the nine post is Caravel, a gray mare by Mizzen Mast – Zeezee Zoomzoom, by Congrats. Since switching to the Brad Cox barn, Caravel has been more forwardly placed, but in the Caress last time, jockey Tyler Gaffalione wasn’t able to get the luckiest of breaks and Caravel faded throughout the race. This time, Luis Saez takes the reins as one of the better aggressive speed riders in the country and should have her closer to the lead. Owners Qatar Racing, Marc Detampel, and Madaket Stables LLC purchased this five year old from her breeder and previous owner Elizabeth M. Merryman, and have already reaped the benefits from Caravel’s stakes wins, but a second victory at Saratoga would put Caravel a notch above the others in this field. With a more forward trip, this should be a bounce-back effort for Caravel among a very evenly matched group.