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2023 Suzie O’Cain Preview | Orange Freeze Goes For Saratoga Stakes Double
Orange Freeze (NYRA)

2023 Suzie O’Cain Preview | Orange Freeze Goes For Saratoga Stakes Double

Bella Cavello Stables’ Orange Freeze made an impressive first start off the claim with a last-out triumph in the one-mile NYSSS Statue of Liberty on July 19 at Saratoga Race Course. The daughter of Freud will look to make it a perfect 2-for-2 at stakes level for trainer Bill Morey in Wednesday’s $125,000 Suzie O’Cain, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for New York-bred sophomore fillies, at the Spa.

The Suzie O’Cain, named in honor of the late member of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Board of Directors and manager of Highcliff Farm, is slated as Race 8 on Wednesday’s nine-race program. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern. 

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Orange Freeze, who made her first five outings against state-breds, has proven to be an astute claim for Morey, who haltered her for $40,000 out of a fifth-out graduation on June 23 at Belmont Park. It was her second start at the maiden claiming level after making her first three outings in maiden special weights for previous conditioner Christophe Clement before finishing second when dropping in for a tag for the first time in May. She notched the victory with a three-wide rally from seven lengths off the pace under Joel Rosario.

“Timing is everything. It looked like she was on the improve and we thought she had more room to improve,” said Morey. “We got a little lucky to get her at the right time and the New York Sire race was coming up, so we took our chances.”

Morey stepped Orange Freeze up in class in her first outing for him, and the grey filly responded to the challenge with aplomb to show a similar turn of foot as her maiden win and fly home from 12 lengths off the pace to take charge at the stretch call of the Statue of Liberty and cruise home a 1 1/2-length winner.

Morey said that with Orange Freeze’s devastating late kick, an extra half-furlong in the O’Cain should not present an issue.

“The distance doesn’t bother me at all,” Morey said. “I think she’ll relish it.”

Orange Freeze, bred by Thummp’s Racing Stable, has worked back twice since the Statue of Liberty, including a five-furlong breeze in 1:02.19 on Wednesday over the Spa main track.

“She’s great. She’s had two maintenance breezes in between races and she’s doing super,” said Morey. “She’s was nice and steady in her last work and she’s fit. We’re just trying to keep her nice and fit.”

Flavien Prat picks up the mount from post 7.

Clement sends out a pair of contenders in Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Steven Rocco and Tango Uniform Racing’s Silver Skillet [post 5, Joel Rosario] and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Darlene Bilinski and Steven Rocco’s Smokie Eyes [post 2, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] as both fillies vie for their first stakes triumph.

Silver Skillet, a daughter of Liam’s Map, arrives from a prominent state-bred allowance coup on July 15 at the Spa where she attended the pace under Rosario and battled on gamely down the stretch to edge stablemate Waterville by a half-length.

Bred by Robert Chasanoff, the $260,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred Yearling Sale purchase made her first five starts on dirt, including a third-place finish in the Maid of the Mist as a maiden in October at Belmont at the Big A, but has relished a surface switch in her last two outings with her win and a close second at allowance level in June at Belmont Park.

Smokie Eyes, bred by Kathleen Schweizer and Daniel Burke, has finished on-the-board in two stakes events versus open company when second in the Tepin in November and third in the Chelsey Flower in October, both at Aqueduct Racetrack. The Nyquist filly was last seen finishing a pacesetting seventh in a May 29 state-bred allowance tilt that saw returning rival Im Just Kiddin elevated to victory over another O’Cain aspirant in Collaboration.

Smokie Eyes is in search of her first win since taking an October maiden special weight by 3 1/2 lengths at Belmont.

Jan Durrschmidt’s homebred Bernt Again [post 4, Manny Franco] will look to turn the tables on Orange Freeze after finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind her familiar foe to be second in the Statue of Liberty. Trained by Domenick Schettino, the Honorable Dillon bay graduated at ninth asking in May at Belmont ahead of an off-the-pace victory in a $50,000 claiming tilt traveling the O’Cain distance on July 2 at Belmont.

Completing the field are:

  • The Linda Rice-trained allowance winner Collaboration [post 8, Dylan Davis]
  • Maiden winner Kosuke [post 1, Jose Ortiz] for trainer Jim Bond
  • Maiden winner & John Kimmel-trained Im Just Kiddin [post 3, Luis Saez]
  • Maiden winner Thundara [post 6, Javier Castellano] for conditioner Philip Antonacci
  • Maiden winner & Dave Donk-trained Snowy Evening [post 9, John Velazquez]

Ichiban and Amanda’s Folly have been entered for the main-track only.