Returning home after a fruitless trip to rain-soaked Royal Ascot, Silvertoniheads a field of six 2-year-old fillies in Saturday’s centennial running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
Pace Scenario – Fast
Speed: #3 Silvertoni
Stalkers: #1 Dial Me, #2 Nonna Mela, #4 Olive Branch, #6 Ever So Clever
Closers: #5 Libby’s Tail
These 2 year old stakes races at Saratoga always produce a fast pace, and this one will be no different. Even though Silvertoni is the only true speed horse on paper, you can bet a host of challengers will line up on her heels to start the race. Nonna Mela might be the number one candidate to do so as she stumbled out of the gate last time out and rushed up to the lead not long after.
Top Pick: #6 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: #3 Silvertoni, #5 Libby’s Tail
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 deubt 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: #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.
Party Crashers: #1 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.
Throw Outs: #4 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.
Silvertoni, trained by Wesley Ward, was unplaced in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes 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 3 in the 6 1/2-furlong 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, who topped the Spa standings with 28 wins heading into Week 4, has a return call on Libby’s Tail, who drew post 5.
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 the rail 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 will be 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 begins from the outside post with 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 4.
The Adirondack, race 9 on an 11-race program, will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 2; post time is 5:54 p.m.