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CCA Oaks Preview: Tonalist’s Shape Ships North
Tonalist's Shape after winning the Davona Dale (Credit: Coglianese Photos / Lauren King)

CCA Oaks Preview: Tonalist’s Shape Ships North

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Slam Dunk Racing, Doug Branham, and Legacy Ranch’s Tonalist’s Shape ships north with her nearly-perfect record to try tackling Saturday’s $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga.

The CCA Oaks is a 1 1/8-mile dirt route restricted to 3-year-old fillies. This year’s edition attracted a field of six and is the first Grade 1 event of the 2020 Saratoga meet, which began Thursday, July 16.

Here is a look at the full field for Saturday’s CCA Oaks:

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1. Tonalist’s Shape 9/5 – She won her first 5 starts with impressive efforts, including the Forward Gal Stakes (G3) and the Davona Dale Stakes (G2). A poor trip in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) is her only blemish from 7 starts, but she adds blinkers for her first start outside of Florida, a 20% move for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.

“She’s a filly that wasn’t very flashy in the morning, but recently, she has started to improve,” said Joseph, Jr. “She trains much more forwardly in the blinkers. You never really know until they run in them how it will go, but all indications are that she will run well in them.”

2. Antoinette 6/1 – The first of two entries from Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, she has displayed great versatility with wins on both turf and dirt, including last December’s Tepin Stakes that was rained off the Aqueduct grass. She has finished third in all 3 starts this year and returns to the dirt after missing by 2 lengths in the Wonder Again Stakes (G3).

3. Altaf 5/1 – She took her time reaching the track before finally debuting over the Gulfstream Park turf on April 2, then showed much improvement while breaking her maiden on the Churchill Downs dirt a month later. She is the field’s least-experienced runner, but Chad Brown has led all trainers in Saratoga wins each of the past two years, including a record 46 in 2018.

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4. Velvet Crush 12/1 – She made her first 5 starts in one-turn events, earning a victory and finishing runner-up twice. She stretched out to two turns in her last start and defeated optional claiming rivals on the front end, and Jose Ortiz – aboard for her maiden-breaking effort last December – picks up the mount for the second time.

5. Crystal Ball 4/1 – She was even later to the races than Altaf, not debuting until May 17 when she finished third in while going two turns at Santa Anita Park. She changed running styles and won her second start by 6 1/4 lengths while racing on the front end, so expect Javier Castellano to try a similar tactic here.

6. Paris Lights 2/1 – After finishing third on debut in a 7-furlong sprint, the second Mott entry stretched out impressively to win a 1 1/16-mile fast Churchill Downs dirt surface. She repeated that effort over the same course a month later against allowance rivals and brings back-to-back 85 Beyer speed figures – best of any runner last time out.

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