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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Gayla Rankin’s Happy Soul seeks to build on her early winning ways, taking on her toughest test yet against eight other freshmen fillies in Thursday’s 103rd running of the $150,000 Schuylerville (G3) on Opening Day of the 40-day summer meet at Saratoga Race Course.
The Schuylerville is 1 of 6 stakes events scheduled for Runhappy Opening weekend July 15-18, led by the $500,000 Diana (G1) for fillies and mares going 9 furlongs on the turf on Saturday, July 17.
Trained by Wesley Ward, Happy Soul won her last 2 starts by a combined 23 1/4 lengths and garnered a respective 81 Beyer Speed Figure in both races.
Following a runner-up effort at first asking to stablemate Nakatomi, Happy Soul romped by 11 3/4 lengths on May 13 going 5 furlongs at Belmont Park. The daughter of second-crop sire Runhappy replicated such dominant ways against stakes company, taking the Astoria by 11 1/2 lengths.
The Astoria was not initially targeted for Happy Soul, who arrived at her first stakes engagement with no recorded breezes following her maiden triumph.
“She got beat on the squares there in her first start,” Ward said. “We were ready when she came back, so we were expecting a big effort. Then, the Astoria came up where she would have been the overwhelming favorite going in, so it was hard to pass up, even without a breeze under her belt.”
Happy Soul has gained experience in her morning training, working with Grade 1-winning stablemate Kimari.
“Visually, Kimari is a better horse, but she’s doing it with speed to spare as well,” Ward said. “She has had some nice works underneath her and she’s come to handle it quicker than I thought. The way she’s doing right now, we’re thinking Schuylerville.”
Breaking from post 7, Happy Soul will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who will vie for his sixth Schuylerville win.
Trainer Tom Amoss packs a powerful pair of last-out maiden winners in Pipeline Girl and Cartel Queen.
Amoss used the Schuylerville as the stakes debut for subsequent multiple Grade 1-winner Serengeti Empress, who finished fourth in 2018 to Catherinethegreat.
Owned by Jerry Caroom, Pipeline Girl scored at first asking, travelling the Schuylerville distance on June 25 at Churchill Downs. The daughter of first-crop sire Air Force Blue broke sharply from post 2 and tracked a trio of front-runners down the backstretch before making a four-wide move in upper stretch and capturing command in the final strides to win by a head.
“I thought her race was a very good experience,” Amoss said. “Any time you get a good experience out of a race and can win it is always a good thing. With a lot of these young horses at this stage, their running style is still something that you’re trying to learn about.”
Bred by Lynch Bages LTD, Pipeline Girl is out of the black-type producing Pulpit mare Guide, whose dam Tour produced graded stakes winner Trip – the second dam of Grade 1 winners Bolt d’Oro and Global Campaign. She was bought for $100,000 from the Hunter Valley consignment at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Also flying the Amoss banner is Jeff Ganje’s Cartel Queen, who arrives off a maiden win at second asking. After finishing second behind runaway winner Golden Bell on debut in April at Keeneland, the daughter of Cairo Prince registered a 2 1/4-length triumph on May 20 at Churchill Downs.
Cartel Queen will sport blinkers for the first time in the Schuylerville, having worked in the hood when blitzing through a 1/2-mile in 47.60 on July 9 at Saratoga.
“We’re making an equipment change with her and adding blinkers,” Amoss said. “She worked at Saratoga with blinkers (Friday) morning and did fine, so she’ll wear them for the Schuylerville.”
Cartel Queen is out of 2009 Oklahoma Horse of the Year Peach Brew – a half sibling to prominent Oklahoma-bred champion and millionaire She’s All In. She was bought for $50,000 from the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Yearling Sale, where she was consigned by co-breeder Buck Pond Stable.
Pipeline Girl will break from post 3 under Jose Ortiz, while Cartel Queen will be piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr. from post 9.
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Swilcan Stable and LC Racing’s Mainstay will attempt to level up to the status of her champion half-sister Vequist for trainer Butch Reid Jr.
The daughter of freshman sire Astern was highly impressive on debut, gliding home to a 7 3/4-length victory on June 4 over a sloppy and sealed main track at Monmouth Park.
Jockey Frankie Pennington will pilot Mainstay from post 2.
Trainer Norm Casse will saddle Pretty Birdie on behalf of Marylou Whitney Stables. The homebred daughter of freshman sire Bird Song was never in doubt in her career debut on June 18 at Churchill Downs, leading at every point of call to win by 3 3/4 lengths.
Dear Birdie, an influential broodmare for the late Marylou Whitney’s breeding operation, appears twice in Pretty Birdie’s pedigree. She is the paternal third dam and the maternal fourth dam of Pretty Birdie.
Pretty Birdie will be piloted by jockey Luis Saez from the inside post.
Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen will saddle two fillies in pursuit of his fourth Schuylerville victory, winning with Jardin (2008), Hot Dixie Chick (2009), and Brazen Persuasion (2013).
W.S. Farish’s Eagle Express ships to Saratoga by way of her native state after capturing the Texas Stallion Pan Zareta on June 13 at Lone Star for Asmussen. A victory would give the Farish family a fourth Schuylerville victory, boasting prior wins with Sweet Revenge (1980), Weekend Surprise (1982), and Weekend Delight (1984).
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. will ride Eagle Express from post 8.
Asmussen will also send out Stonestreet Stables’ Velvet Sister following a successful debut on June 10 at Belmont Park. The daughter of Bernardini led at every point of call over Big Sandy, extending her advantage throughout and romped home a 9 3/4-length winner.
Bred in New York by Godolphin and Michelle Nevin, Velvet Sister was a $500,000 acquisition from the Fasig-Tipton March 2020 Sale, where she was consigned by Eddie Woods. She is a half-sister to multiple New York-bred stakes winner My Boy Tate.
Jockey Joel Rosario will return to the irons aboard Velvet Sister from post 4.
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Cammarota Racing’s Queen Camilla (post 6, Junior Alvarado) invades from South Florida for trainer Antonio Sano. The daughter of first-crop sire Connect was a 1-length winner against her Florida-bred counterparts on July 1 at Gulfstream Park.
Completing the field is Saucy Lady T, a dark bay or brown Tonalist filly trained and co-owned by James Chapman in partnership with Van Camperlengo. Saucy Lady T won at second asking on April 25 over a sloppy and sealed track at Belmont Park. Jockey Manny Franco will ride from post 5.
The Schuylerville is slated as race 9 on Thursday’s 10-race Opening Day card. First post is 1:05 PM Eastern.
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