Saturday’s $600,000 Alabama (G1) at Saratoga may be missing Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Believe You Can, but the seven that remain make for a very competitive race that may end up having year-end championship ramifications for the division.
The Tony Dutrow trained Grace Hall is the 7-5 morning line favorite, and is coming off a win in the Delaware Oaks (G2) in her last outing.
The filly has won a couple of Grade 2 races in four starts this year and is looking for her first Grade 1 of her sophomore season.
Both Zo Impressive (5-1) and Questing (5-2) already have a Grade 1 victory on their resume.
Zo Impressive won the Mother Goose (G1) on June 20 at Belmont Park and could not catch Questing in her last start in the Coaching Club of America Oaks (G1).
In Lingerie (6-1) and Via Villaggio (8-1) both have won graded stakes this year, and longshots Sea Island (12-1) and Uptown Bertie (20-1) complete the Alabama field.
The Alabama goes off as the tenth race on the Spa card with a post time of 5:45 ET.
The Alabama and the preceding race, the $600,000 Sword Dancer (G1) will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network. The one hour telecast of “Summer at Saratoga” gets underway at 5:00 ET.
The Sword Dancer drew a field of nine that will go 1 ½ miles on the inner turf course. Leading the pack is United Nations (G1) winner Turbo Compressor (2-1) and Man O’ War (G1) winner Point of Entry (5-2).
My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include selections for both stakes as well as the stakes action at Arlington Park.
Coming up at Arlington Park on Saturday is the $1 million Arlington Million (G1), as well as the $750,000 Beverly D. (G1), $500,000 Secretariat (G1), and the ungraded $400,000 American St. Leger.
Michael Dempsey provides his selections for Saratoga each racing day. Mike’s Best Plays Report is available each weekend, with his strongest plays and selections including the top stakes races.
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Let’s head out to Saratoga for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Saratoga Race 10 The Alabama (G1) Post time 5:46 ET
2 Zo Impressive 5-1
3 Grace Hall 7-5
6 Questing 5-2
7 In Lingerie 6-1
Zo Impressive raced wide most of the trip last out in the Coaching Club of America Oak s (G1), going four wide around the first turn and wide again on the far turn. Jockey Rajiv Maragh let Questing get the jump turning for home and she was gone. Our top pick was closer to the pace two back in the Mother Goose (G1) and she finished gamely for the win, earning a career top speed fig in that outing. She has enough pedigree to handle the stretch out here to 1 ¼ miles. She is by Hard Spun out of the stakes winner Zoftig ($401K) who also dropped stakes winner Zaftig ($409K). The filly may be able to turn the tables here and it looks as if Maragh should have her right in the mix early here as there is not much early pace signed on. She looks like decent value here if she goes off near her 5-1 morning line.
Grace Hall came up short as the betting favorite in her third place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), but she sure bounced back with a sharp effort winning the Delaware Oaks (G2) last out, earning a career top speed figure in the win. The Oaks is the lone start in her career that she has missed landing in the exacta, and she has a win over the Spa main track, taking the Spinaway (G1) here last summer in her second career start. She comes in here really sharp and looks as if she will handle the extra ground, although her price is going to be a bit on the light side.
Questing is coming off a win in the CCA Oaks, opening up on the far turn and then drifting out badly inside the final furlong but was well clear, winning by 4 ½ lengths over our top pick in here. Two back she won her first start since arriving in the U.S. last fall when she popped a 105 Beyer beating Alw-1 optional claimers. The runner up and third place finisher came out of that race to win next out, with runner up Book Review earning a 98 Beyer for his win against Alw-1 foes at the Spa on opening day. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers in a race without much other early speed. The main question is whether she can handle another furlong.
WIN: Zo Impressive to win at 7-2 or better.
EXACTA: 2,3 / 2,3,6,7
TRIFECTA: 2,3 / 2,3,6,7 / 2,3,5,6,7