The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack increased by one 2-year-old filly when it was re-drawn for its centennial edition on Friday at Saratoga Race Course.
Supplemented to the field for the 6 ½-furlong race, which was postponed when Saturday’s card was canceled after the fifth race, is Marty Vogt’s Romantic Music, a front-running maiden winner on August 5 at Monmouth Park for trainer Derek Ryan. The Maclean’s Music filly drew the rail and will be ridden by Kendrick Carmouche.
Pace Scenario – Moderate
Speed: #1 Romantic Model, #6 Silvertoni
Stalkers: #2 Nonna Mela, #3 Olive Branch, #5 Ever So Clever
Closers: #4 Dial Me, #7 Libby’s Tail
The re-drawn race drew in a new shooter that was not entered last week in Romantic Model who will have a serious impact on the pace scenario. Silvertoni looked to be the lone speed in the race when it was originally scheduled to run, but now she will have company up front. I still don’t expect a blazing pace, however sitting off the lead looks like a better strategy now than it did a week ago.
Top Pick: #5 Ever So Clever
This was one of a few Steve Asmussen Churchill Downs maiden breakers that I made note of this spring/summer. I assumed she’d show up in a Saratoga Stakes, and now here she is as she is indeed entered. I like how she won from just a little bit off the pace in her debut, and I also liked her willingness to split horses when making her move. Of course the most eye catching aspect of her maiden score was the fact she won by over seven lengths! Hopefully she sits the perfect trip from her outside post, and pounces when the time is right.
Other Likely Winners: #7 Libby’s Tail and #6 Silvertoni
Based on class alone Silvertoni is a solid favorite, and considering the ground she ran on at Ascot was extremely soft I believe you can draw a line through that race. However, the travel to Ascot and back could be tough on a young horse so it leaves me skeptical on what she might do today. Libby’s Tail earned the highest beyer speed figure of the field as she earned a 77 for her debut maiden victory. She’ll need a little bit of pace up front, but if she gets it I expect her to be charging late.
Exotic Plays: #1 Romantic Model and #2 Nonna Mela
It’s always scary for me not to put a Todd Pletcher horse on top in races like this, but to me this one lacks the talent to actually win the race. Even though I have her listed as an exotic play I’d still probably play her on my multi race tickets based on respect for the trainer. Last time out at Monmouth Park she overcame a stumble out of the gate to pick up the win, but I think it’s worth noting that she lost in her debut race. That’s usually not a great sign for a Pletcher trained horse. With Romantic Model she fits from a speed standpoint, but will she get burned out on the front end if she hooks up with Silvertoni? I’m not sure the rail draw does her many favors as well.
Party Crashers: #4 Dial Me
Just have a feeling she’s going to run a strong race here. She showed big improvement in her second career start, and had to run well to catch Truthful just before the wire last time out at Ellis Park. The extra half furlong is going to help her I believe as this horse should be better going two turns. Lukas knows how to win this race, and you can’t deny his young two year olds with talent usually improve with each and every start. This would be an amazing story if she could pull off the upset seeing as how she’s owned by the Churchill Downs Racing Group. Plus D Wayne Lukas is heating up at the Spa with two wins last weekend.
Throw Outs: #3 Olive Branch
This will be my only throw out of the bunch, and it’s scary to do so seeing as how she’s been her own worst nightmare in her two starts. We really don’t know how talented she is as she’s acted up or just had bad luck so far in her young career. It would not be a shock to see her win this one.
Heading the field is Silvertoni, trained by Wesley Ward, who was unplaced in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes over soggy ground at Royal Ascot last time out. However, the daughter of Tapit will likely appreciate returning to dirt, where she won her first two starts in front-running style, capped by the Kentucky Juvenile against males at Churchill Downs, in which she fought back gamely after being headed.
“I think she can ‘grass’ as well, but she caught soggy turf over there,” said Ward. “She’s a big filly and she was just kind of sinking into it. She’s only going to get better as she goes further. She has a big, strong, lengthy stride and it’s tough to get by her because she just keeps running.”
Silvertoni gets a rider switch to Joel Rosario as she breaks from post position 6 in the Adirondack. She carries 122 pounds as the only stakes winner in the race, conceding four pounds to all.
Libby’s Tail is likely to attract strong support, as she earned the top Beyer Speed Figure of 77 for her debut at Belmont Park, where she rallied from last under Irad Ortiz, Jr. to draw off in deep stretch.
“To tell you the truth, I thought we were dead,” said trainer Rudy Rodriguez of Libby Tail’s unveiling. “She had shown us a lot of potential, but she didn’t break that good and she was getting sand in the face, but she was very, very professional. She has to step up Saturday, but she’s showed class right from the beginning and she’s improving.”
Ortiz, the leading rider at the Spa, has a return call on Libby’s Tail, who drew post 7.
D. Wayne Lukas has won the Adirondack six times – four in a row from 1985-88 – and most recently in 2005 with Folklore, who became his seventh 2-year-old filly champion. The Hall of Fame conditioner shoots for a seventh Adirondack with Dial Me, who exits a sharp maiden victory at Ellis Park.
Dial Me, a daughter of freshman sire Dialed In, breaks from post position 4 with Luis Saez aboard.
Meanwhile, erstwhile Team Lukas assistant Todd Pletcher has won three of the Adirondack’s last 10 renewals. He sends out Nonna Mela, who overcame a stumbling start to break her maiden by better than seven lengths second time out at Monmouth Park.
Nonna Mela picks up three-time Eclipse Award winner Javier Castellano and leaves from post 2.
As with Libby’s Tail and Nonna Mela, a slow start did not deter Ever So Clever from beating maidens in July. The Medaglia d’Oro filly drew away smartly when unveiled at Churchill Downs by Steve Asmussen, who was inducted into the National Racing Museum Hall of Fame Friday.
Asmussen won last year’s Adirondack with Just Wicked, as well as the 2011 edition with eventual division champ My Miss Aurelia.
Ever So Clever drew post position 5 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the irons.
Completing the lineup is Olive Branch, who hasn’t had much luck since winning at first asking for Rick Violette, Jr. in May.
Olive Branch was scheduled to run in the Astoria during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, but was scratched after a paddock incident, and then needed a shoe repair prior to a fifth-place finish in the Schuylerville Stakes.
Olive Branch once again has Jose Ortiz up and breaks from post 3.
The Adirondack, race 10 on Friday’s 11-race program that co-features the $100,000 Skidmore for turf fillies (Race 3), will b broadcast live on Fox Sport 2; post time is approximately 6:18 p.m.