SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Kaleem Shah’s homebred American Gal got the better of ex-trainer Bob Baffert’s Faypien and eight other 3-year-old fillies in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test Stakes.
American Gal broke from the 10 post on the far outside. Jockey Jose Ortiz placed her five-wide near the front, just to the outside of Faypien, while Chalon set early fractions of :22.42 and :44.53 down the backstretch and into the far turn.
Coming out of the turn, American Gal was on the outside, Faypien and Vertical Oak were sandwiched in the middle, and Chalon was down along the rail. The four fillies were set down for the stretch drive as one, but it wasn’t long before American Gal began to distance herself from her foes. She hit the 3/4-mile mark in 1:09.04 before her strong turn of foot gave her a 4-length advantage at the wire, completing the 7-furlong main track race in 1:22.26.
“She finished very well,” Ortiz said. “I just wanted to get a clean break and I got it. We found some room very well. She was impressive for me today.”
Now two-for-two (including her 2017 debut in the Grade 3 Victory Ride) since moving to new trainer Simon Callaghan at the beginning of the year, the daughter of Concord Point improved her record to 6-4-1-1. The $300,000 winner’s share increased her career earnings to $707,700.
“We knew she was sitting on a big performance,” Callaghan said. “She came into this race so good after her last race, and for once, the race went perfectly to plan. She got a great trip and dominated today.”
Faypien finished a 1/2-length ahead of Tequilita. Chalon held off Vertical Oak by a neck for fourth. Your Love, Divine Miss Grey, Chanel’s Legacy, Minnie Blip, and Cursor completed the order of finish.
Undefeated in four races at less than a mile, but winless in two attempts going longer, American Gal’s connections may ready her for the Grade 1, $1,000,000 Filly and Mare Sprint at 7 furlongs.
“I think cutting her back to 7/8 is her optimal distance,” Callaghan said. “We’ll take her back to California and think about the Breeders’ Cup and which way to go. I have to think 7/8 is such a good distance for her. A mile, she she’s still very good, but at the back of my mind, 7/8 is where she’s going to be spectacular.”
American Gal returned $6.30 to win, $3.30 to place, and $2.60 to show. Faypien brought back $3.60 to place and $2.80 to show, while Tequilita paid $4 to show.