SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Trainer Todd Pletcher is throwing three of his best female runners into the mix as he hunts a victory in Sunday’s $125,000 Shuvee Stakes (G3) at Saratoga.
“One good thing for all three of them is that they don’t mind the wet surface if it’s going to come up on Sunday,” said Pletcher, who will saddle Bellera, Nonna Madeline, and Another Broad.
The Shuvee is a 1 1/8-mile dirt route restricted to fillies and mares ages 4 and up. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 10-race card and has a local post time of 5:46 PM.
Here’s a look at the full field for the Shuvee:
1. Lucky Stride 15/1 – Though bred in Kentucky, she spent her first 2 racing seasons in Puerto Rico, where she dominated the Camarero course (11-8-3-0 record) and won both graded stakes attempts. There’s much tougher competition here than the four-horse fields that she was facing, but she has trained consistently well locally for her North American debut.
2. Bellera 10/1 – After winning back-to-back dirt stakes last winter while going this distance at Aqueduct, she took some time off and hasn’t yet regained that same form. She has a win over this course and distance, courtesty of an optional claiming victory in the slop last August, and John Velazquez – aboard for last November’s Comely Stakes (G3) win – rides back.
“Bellera should improve (from her last race),” Pletcher said. “I thought she ran a little bit flat last time, but she’s had a really good schedule since then and I expect an improved race from her.”
3. Letruska 3/1 – She stretches out to the farthest distance that she’s attempted since she beat the boys in the 1 1/4-mile 2019 Caribo Clasico Stakes last December. She seemingly does her best running on the front end early and has proven successful when going longer, not something that some of her rivals here can say.
4. Our Super Freak 6/1 -She put forth a career-best effort last time out, finishing second in the 1 1/16-mile Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3) after dueling on the front end early. She’s yet to win beyond 1 mile and will need to duplicate her most recent start, where she earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure – 18 points higher than her previous high.
5. Golden Award 9/2 – One of the most frustrating horses to bet, she’s talented enough to win nearly every race that she enters, but the question always remains – will she feel like racing? She completely gave up halfway through 2 of her past 5 starts (both were Grade 1s), but those other 3 starts resulted in either wins or narrow seconds.
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6. Nonna Madeline 4/1 – She ran the best race of her career last time out to win the Summer Colony Stakes over this course and distance, her first time attempting 1 1/8 miles. She showed that going longer is better for her and that she could handle a hot pace duel, coming out on top after fighting with Golden Award through much of the race.
“I thought she ran terrific last time and she’s coming into this one training well,” Pletcher said.
7. Lucky Move 12/1 – She returned from a mild break to win the Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park on June 17, but she failed to replicate that effort in the Delaware Handicap (G2) while facing a tougher level of competition. Her resume includes a state-bred optional claiming victory over the local course and distance last summer and she has a distance record of 6-1-3-1.
8. Another Broad 15/1 – She shows up looking for her first win in 16 months, having last tasted victory in the Top Flight Invitational at Aqueduct. She has perhaps the field’s strongest wet track resume (6-4-1-1 record including the Top Flight), so sharp bettors will give her an added boost in their tickets if the skies open up on race day.
“She’s fresh and she’s put in some good breezes,” Pletcher said. “We tried to enter a couple of times as a main-track only, but to no avail. She seems to like a mile and 1/8, so it’s a logical target.”
9. Royal Flag 7/2 – Though not the morning line favorite, expect her to take plenty of money – she’s been favored in all 5 career starts, earning 3 wins and finishing third twice. She won 3 straight beginning last December that ended in the Molly Pitcher, her first graded attempt, but she’s bred to handle longer distances and has room to improve here.