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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Robert and Lawana Low’s Sweet Melania looms a dangerous favorite while trying to give trainer Todd Pletcher his third title in Friday’s $100,000 Lake George Stakes (G3) at Saratoga.
The Lake George is a 1-mile inner turf route restricted to 3-year-old fillies. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 10-race card that includes the card-opening Times Square and has a local post time of 5:46 PM.
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Here’s a look at the full field for the Lake George:
1. Sweet Melania 8/5 – The morning line favorite has hit the board in all 7 starts and earned each of her 3 wins on the lawn, including June’s Wonder Again Stakes (G3) last time out. Considering that was her first start since finishing third in November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), any improvement here makes her tough to beat.
“She’s a quality filly and I was pleased with her effort off the layoff,” Pletcher said. “She breezed super on Friday, so hopefully she’s ready to run well again.”
2. Micheline 9/2 – She took a big step forward once she began sporting blinkers late last year, winning twice and missing a third by just 3/4 of a length behind a loose leader. Her style is to drop back and make one long sustained stretch run, so she’ll likely benefit if a hot early pace ensues.
3. Witez 8/1 – She steps back up to face graded stakes rivals after defeating allowance rivals over this course and distance last month. While she was never a threat in 3 prior attempts at this level, those also came when going longer; she has 2 wins and a third from 3 starts this distance.
4. Velvet Crush 20/1 – She takes her second stab at running on turf after running a close second last September in her second career start. Aggressive gate jockey Luis Saez gets the mount for the first time, so don’t be surprised to see her challenging the favorite for early prominence.
5. My Sassy Sarah 12/1 – She takes a big step up after a strong victory against her fellow New York-breds in a local 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint allowance. That effort earned her a career-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure that makes her competitive against this group – if she successfully stretches out.
6. Cat’s Pajamas 5/1 – She improved greatly after switching to turf this year, winning her first 2 attempts before running flat in the Lake Placid Stakes (G2) last time out. That 1 1/8-mile event may have been too much distance for her; if so, she provides good value, especially with her tactical speed.
7. Miss Peppina 5/2 (Main Track Only) – She’ll only run if the race is taken off of the grass, which based on the most recent weather forecasts seems unlikely. She has a 5-1-0-1 dirt track record.
8. Selflessly 6/1 – She rallied to finish second by just a 1/2-length in her career unveiling – a local turf sprint – before breaking her maiden while stretching out in the Ms Grillo Stakes (G2). Excuse her for stumbling out of the gate in the Wonder Again last time out and she looms a juicy threat.
9. Windracer 12/1 – This Irish-bred’s 2020 debut was also her first race in North America, but she overcame both obstacles to defeat an optional claiming field on the Arlington Park lawn. Trainer Jack Sisterson’s starters have won 2 of 5 this meet, indicating that he only runs here when he’s live.
“She’s an extremely talented filly,” Sisterson said. “It’s a step up in class, but she’s doing extremely well, and I think this is a steppingstone to bigger and better things.”
10. Sugar Fix 15/1 – She makes her first start for new trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr., after getting tagged for $40k out of a local July victory – her fourth straight and seventh in her past 9 starts. Her new trainer hits at 38% with runners first off the claim, so if her price holds on race day, beware.
11. American Giant 30/1 – She returned from six months off to finish fifth, beaten less than 2 lengths, in July’s Christina Stakes at Delaware Park. She won her first 3 turf starts but has been camera-shy since facing tougher competition and will need a career-best effort here to change that trend.
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