Trainer Chad Brown, winner of the training title at the recently concluded Belmont Park spring/summer meet and runner-up to Pletcher each year at the Spa since 2011, will saddle a pair in the Grade 2, $200,000 Lake George for 3-year-old fillies on the Mellon Turf.
Brown will be represented by the undefeated New York-bred Ancient Secret, who will be going around two turns for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile Lake George. The daughter of Kantharos, who fetched $225,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sale last April, is 3-for-3 at Belmont Park, having broken her maiden against state-breds, defeated older fillies in a New York-bred allowance and then post a head victory in open company in the one-mile Wild Applause on June 19.
Ortiz, Jr. will be aboard Ancient Secret, who drew post position 5 of 12.
Also from the Brown barn will be the Irish-bred Elysea’s World, a maiden winner in France last year who won her stateside debut on May 11 at Belmont in an optional claimer at the Lake George distance. She next finished a well-backed sixth behind winner Time and Motion in the Wonder Again on June 5.
Three-time Eclipse Award winning jockey Javier Castellano rides Elysea’s World from post position 2.
Also having begun their careers in Europe are Amerman Racing’s Baciami Piccola, who won the Grade 3 Florida Oaks in her first stateside start after racing in France and Italy, and the Tommy Stack-trained Diamond Fields, making her American debut after racing in Ireland and England. Most recently she finished second in the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot.
Baciami Piccola drew post 8 under Joel Rosario while Diamond Fields will leave from post 3 under Junior Alvarado.
Expected to attract support as well are stakes winner Flora Dora, making her first start on grass; Grade 3 Miss Grillo winner Tin Type Gal; the Mike Maker-trained Try Your Luck, third last out in the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs, and Gone Away, who was eighth in the Regret after winning the Hilltop at Pimlico.
Rounding out the field are Thundering Sky, Enjoy Yourself, Sky My Sky, and Outsider Art, who broke her maiden last year at the Spa and was Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s lone flat winner during the meet.
#11 Tin Type Gal – This is a filly that Racing Dudes writer Mike Spector has loved for awhile now and wrote about in his recent article Saratoga Opening Weekend JUMP START. I happen to agree with Mike about this horse, and believe even though she finished fifth last time out that the race was simply a prep for this spot today. If you look at the horses she beat last year as a two year old you can see that she has quite a bit of class. She’ll need to move forward off of her three year old debut for sure, but if she does she could make short work of this competitive group.
#5 Ancient Secret – Chad Brown on the turf with Irad Ortiz Jr. to ride on a horse that is an undefeated three for three…what more could you want? Brown has progressed this horse nicely through three races gradually running her longer each time out, including this time when she runs at a mile and one sixteenth for the first time. The only question mark is last time out she stepped out of state bred company and even though she won it was a close race where she was almost defeated by a 17-1 horse. Perhaps she’s better against state bred company, but the fact Chad Brown entered here here makes me think he doesn’t believe that. Deserving favorite.
#10 Try Your Luck – Here is a filly that’s gotten on a tremendous roll in her last few races. It started with a maiden breaking romp at Keeneland running the same distance she’ll run today, and then she was able to stretch out and win an allowance before finishing a solid third in the Grade 3 Regret Stakes last time out. With the small cut back in distance today it makes her very attractive. Also getting John Velazquez to ride is another very positive sign as he can be pretty selective with his mounts. Everything points to a big effort.
#9 Outsider Art – She just seems to be your typical third place type of horse as she comes with a pretty decent run most times but doesn’t seem to get there. When looking at the pp’s she kind of reminded me a male dirt runner Star Hill who also comes with a run usually, but it’s not good enough to actually win. I would maybe put her in the third spot once again today, but not on top.
#2 Elysea’s World – You have to be willing to give this filly another try based simply on her connections. She came into the Wonder Again Stakes last time out with a perfect two for two record, but kind of flattened out in the stretch of that race to finish sixth. I don’t have the confidence to put her in the likely winners category but I’ve seen Chad Brown runners, especially on the turf, rebound from those kinds of efforts before. You can never count the combination of him and Javier Castellano out at Saratoga.
#1 Thundering Sky – Was her last race a fluke, or did she put it all together in that one? I’m referring to the Wild Applause Stakes where she almost beat the undefeated Ancient Secret at odds of 17-1. Her form before that race was not that great, and in fact she was beaten in the race before by Gone Away who I have ranked at the bottom of this race. Her race was too good last time for me to throw her out, but can she do it again? Hard to say.
#3 Diamonds Field – Will be making her first start in the United States after running at Royal Ascot last time out. With this kind of situation it’s always a real mystery how they’ll like the racing style over here because it is completely different than where they have been running. I could go on about her form overseas (it’s not bad) but the bottom line is she’ll either like it or hate it here and there is really no way of knowing. Would hate to leave her off multi-race tickets, but can’t really tell you to play her as a win bet.
#6 Sky My Sky – I actually like this horse quite a bit, but this field is so tough today. You can’t play them all, and this filly just barely missed the “exotic plays” cut. Wouldn’t be shocked at all though if she runs a nice race.
#4 Enjoy Yourself – Has ran some races in the past that could make her competitive, but just not running well right now heading into this spot. In a field that is very tough she’ll need a top effort.
#7 Flora Dora – Trying turf for the first time today after just mild success on the dirt in nine lifetime starts. This experiment is probably worth a shot, but maybe not in a race like this one that is very tough. Could surprise us today, but is hard to support in a race this solid.
#8 Baciami Piccola – Pulled off a big upset in the Florida Oaks, but hasn’t had much success in her two starts after that one. Will really have to step it up today as that Florida Oaks came back fairly weak. Looks overmatched.
#12 Gone Away – Much like Baciami Piccola, she pulled off an upset in a smaller stakes, but hasn’t done all that well outside of that big win. Today looks to be a little out of her league.