The Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes may be one of the most celebrated stakes races of the entire season. Sure, on paper, it may look like any normal Grade 3 for 2-year-olds, but it’s so much more! The Schuylerville is a symbol for Opening Day at Saratoga. Racing fans wait months for the Opening Day card to be drawn because it signals the beginning of six weeks of pure horse racing heaven.
This year, the Schuylerville drew a field of nine and may be one of the toughest runnings ever from a handicapping prospective. Most of the big-time Saratoga trainers have entered horses, including Steve Asmussen, Todd Pletcher, Christophe Clement, and Mark Casse. Let’s take a look at the field:
#1 Mel’s Gone Wild – She comes into the race with the highest speed figure of all on the dirt, but her only race came at Parx. Sometimes, those numbers don’t quite translate to success at other tracks. For that reason, she becomes a wild card, but there’s no questioning that her talent level is very high. With so many high-profile names in this race, I expect that she will get ignored at the windows a bit. That’s why I’m willing to take a shot with her on top in this spot. The price will be right and the talent is there.
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#3 Best Performance – I found myself very high on this filly after her debut win and still like her a lot now, even though she lost in the Astoria Stakes last time out. However, the horse that beat her, I Still Miss You, returned to lose the Lynbrook Stakes last time out. Even though she didn’t run a bad race, I was a bit discouraged that she lost, so I downgraded Best Performance a bit. I haven’t totally given up on her yet, though, and think that she could bounce back and run a good one in this spot. Clement will have her ready, and her experience edge could play in her favor.
#9 Stainless – She was nearly my top choice, a decision I may end up regretting. She reminds me a little bit of Sweet Loretta, who won this race last year. In that instance, Sweet Loretta had broken her maiden away from NYRA and didn’t come into the race with a high speed figure number for that winning effort. Stainless has the exact same qualities heading into this one. Pletcher has dominated this race in the past and could easily pick up another win on Friday.
#2 Buy Sell Hold – She’ll likely go off as the favorite in this race and deserves to do so after her win in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes last time out. It seems as though trainer Steve Asmussen has been pointing at this spot for quite awhile now, which also makes her a very dangerous prospect in this race. Most every horse in this field is short on proven form, but out of them all, she definitely has the best resume. Her speed figures haven’t been off the charts, though, and for that reason, I didn’t put her on top at what will be a short price.
#8 Snowfire – Squarely on the fence with this filly, I’ve had her as high as my top choice and as low as a throwout. Her maiden was visually impressive, but the speed figure didn’t come back strong. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she wins in this spot, but take a wait-and-see approach because she must match up against some tough ones here.
#4 Dream It Is – Hard to tell what we’ll see out of this filly, who will be trying the dirt for the first time. There are plenty of positives (other than no starts on dirt), though, as she’s been a runaway winner twice on the synthetic at Woodbine. Also, she’s earned a higher speed figure than anyone else in the race, so you know she’s plenty fast enough. She’ll be a solid price and has the breeding to take to the dirt. She’s worth a hard look.
#5 Limited View – An impressive debut winner at Laurel Park who got a very solid speed figure, but can we trust the Mid-Atlantic form at Saratoga? She’ll need to prove it to me first.
#7 Laudation – Well, here goes nothing… throwing out a Steve Asmussen 2-year-old with Javier Castellano aboard is a dicey situation. That’s how you know this race is very tough. Not to mention, this horse broke her maiden by 3 lengths at Churchill Downs last time out. Happy opening day at the SPA!
# 6 Pacific Gale – She had a solid debut winning effort at Belmont Park last time out, but the win was only by a head. Any maiden special weight win is great, but in a field this tough, you needed to see a little more from her in order to give her a shot here. She looks like she could someday be a quality filly, though.
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