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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Head of Plains Partners’ Fluffy Socks earned a graded stakes win as a juvenile and will look to reach that status again as a sophomore.
But to accomplish that feat, she will face a talented field that includes fellow Chad Brown trainees Amy C, Minaun, and Technical Analysis in Friday’s $150,000 Lake George (G3) for 3-year-old fillies going 1 mile on Saratoga Race Course’s inner turf.
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Brown netted his record fourth Lake George win when Selflessly won last year’s edition. The 4-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer will send out a talented contingent on Friday in his quest for a third straight score.
Among those contenders is Fluffy Socks, who won the Jimmy Durante (G3) in November to cap her juvenile campaign.
The Slumber filly returned off a nearly 5-month freshening to run second, a head back to Bubbles On Ice, in the Memories of Silver in April at Aqueduct Racetrack before running fifth in the Wonder Again (G3) last out going 1 1/8 miles on the Belmont Park turf course in June.
Fluffy Socks ran fifth in her debut last August in her only previous Saratoga start. The Kentucky homebred drew post 3 with Joel Rosario set to ride.
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Brown will also saddle the Irish-bred Minaun, the runner-up in the Wild Applause on June 26 at Belmont going 1 mile. Minaun won her North American debut in April at Belmont in her first start since being transferred to Brown’s care after Henry de Bromhead handled the conditioning duties at the start of her career in Europe.
After winning that 6-furlong sprint, Brown stretched her out to the Lake George distance in the Wild Applause, where she earned an 83 Beyer Speed Figure for edging stablemate Nevisian Sunrise by a 1/2-length for second.
Minaun, owned by Bradley Thoroughbreds, Iris Smith Stable and Rigney Racing, will break from the outermost post 10 with Manny Franco aboard.
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Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Robert LaPenta’s Amy C was a 1/2-length victor in her first start for Brown on June 25 at Belmont. After starting her career in France, Amy C shipped to North America and into Brown’s care and will now elevate to stakes company, drawing post 6 with Irad Ortiz Jr. on the call.
Rounding out Brown’s foursome will be Klaravich Stables’ Technical Analysis, who ran sixth in the Wonder Again in her first stakes action. The Irish-bred daughter of Kingman, a $258,000 purchase, will have jockey Jose Ortiz’s services from post 8.
Starlight Racing and Glen Hill Farm’s Jouster, fourth in the Wonder Again, has already won a graded stakes going a mile this year, netting a field-high 88 Beyer for her win in the Appalachian (G2) in April at Keeneland for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
Jouster, purchased for $360,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, made a strong initial stakes appearance, running second by a nose to Domain Expertise in the Florida Oaks (G3) in March at Tampa Bay Downs before breaking through in the Appalachian next out.
The Noble Mission filly, who has already amassed earnings of $226,920 through 7 starts, will have Luis Saez in the irons from post 5. Jouster breezed a bullet 1/2-mile in 47.80 seconds Friday over Saratoga’s Oklahoma training turf.
“She’s doing great,” Pletcher said. “I thought her breeze on Friday was exceptional. Backing up to a mile is more of what she wants. I think that the key with her is backing her up in distance.”
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G. Watts Humphrey Jr. homebred Navratilova followed a pair of third-place stakes finishes to win the Tepin by a 1/2-length on June 26 at Churchill Downs at 1 mile. The Rusty Arnold trainee, by Medaglia d’Oro, entered off back-to-back 84 Beyers and will depart post 9 in tandem with jockey Jose Lezcano.
“She just took progressive steps. She was a decent 2-year-old,” Arnold said. “This year, we started her out at 5 1/2 [furlongs] and we wanted to stretch her out, and she did well at a mile. She’s matured with racing and got a little better.”
Centre Court, Navratilova’s dam, won the 2012 edition of the Lake George. Her progeny showed promise winning her debut in August at Ellis Park before finishing sixth in the Jessamine in October at Keeneland.
After starting her sophomore campaign with consecutive placings going 5 1/2 furlongs in the Limestone Turf and Mamzelle in Kentucky, Navratilova relished going a mile last out and will look to replicate that success and earn black type at a fourth different track, joining Ellis Park, Keeneland and Churchill.
“She’s run on the grass well at three different tracks, so I don’t think that will be an issue,” Arnold said.
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Tobys Heart, off a runner-up effort to Navratilova in the Tepin, will return to the Spa for the first time since winning last year’s 5 1/2-furlong Bolton Landing in August. The Jack Milton filly won the 5 1/2-furlong Limestone Turf Sprint in April at Keeneland over a course labeled good.
Stretched out to 7 furlongs, Tobys Heart ran fifth in the Soaring Softly (G3) in May at Belmont. After competing at the Lake George distance last out in the Tepin, trainer and co-owner Brian Lynch said he isn’t concerned about her handling the mile course.
“She’s a much bigger, stronger filly now and she’s shown she can handle the two turns,” Lynch said. “As she gets older, you’re looking for a horse that can stretch out over a bit of ground. I feel really good about her improvement. We’re looking for a good leap with her.”
Tobys Heart, also owned by Terry Hamilton and Gary Barber, was bred in Kentucky by Trackside Farms. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will have the call from post 7.
Invincible Gal, second in the Soaring Softly, will look to rebound from a seventh-place Tepin performance. Trained by Graham Motion, the British-bred daughter of Invincible Spirit will be making just her third start of the year. Invincible Gal, owned by Michael J. Ryan, Jeff Drown and Team Hanley, will see Hall of Famer John Velazquez depart out of post 4.
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Lawrence Goichman’s Runaway Rumour, out of the Elusive Quality mare Elusive Rumour, is a half-sister to stablemate Myhartblongstodady, the winner of the 2020 Yaddo over the Saratoga turf. Runaway Rumour is 3 for 3 after winning the Wild Applause for trainer Jorge Abreu. All three of those wins were at Belmont, with the daughter of Flintshire shipping to a race for the first time (post 2, Ricardo Santana Jr.).
Demodog, owned by Donato Lanni and John F. Youngblood, will step up to stakes company for the first time after starting 2 for 2 for trainer Rodolphe Brisset (post 1, Chris Landeros).
The 26th running of the Lake George will be contested as race 9 on the 10-race card. First post is 1:05 PM Eastern.
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