The Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway Stakes is set for this Saturday at Saratoga. As usual, the race will feature a stellar field of 2-year-old fillies looking to make their presence felt on the national scene. This year’s headliner has a pretty famous pedigree, to say the least. Chasing Yesterday, half-sister to the Triple Crown and 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner American Pharoah, will ship to Saratoga for the ever-dangerous Bob Baffert. Chasing Yesterday was an impressive debut winner at Del Mar earlier in the year and will look to try to do something her famous brother never did: win a race at Saratoga. Jockey Mike Smith will join the filly, which is good news for her chances: when Smith and Baffert team up in New York, they have won 13 of their last 15 starts.
“She’s not a really big filly, but she’s starting to fill out. She worked well for this and she shipped well, so we’ll find out what she’s made of,” said Baffert by phone from California. “We’ve loved her from Day 1. She’s always shown that she’s special. Hopefully, she gets a nice, clean trip and it sets her up for something in the future.
“She doesn’t look like Pharoah. She probably looks more like her mother, but I see a lot of Tapit in her too,” he added. “Her disposition is like Pharoah’s though. She’s a sweetheart, very loveable, like Abel Tasman in that way. When she gets on the track though, she’s like Pharaoh – all racehorse. She just turns it on.”
This Saturday, the Spinaway and the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes will be part of a live broadcast on NBC Sports that will air from 5:30 – 6:30 PM Eastern Time. The NBC team will provide live on-site coverage from Saratoga.
The winner of the Spinaway will receive an automatic position in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes this fall at Churchill Downs. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the person who nominated the foal or racehorse. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based internationally.
The Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes will share the card on Saturday at Saratoga with the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes. While not a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race, it still could have major implications on the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The North American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on Saturday, September 15th, and Sunday, September 16th, at Churchill Downs and Woodbine. On Saturday, Churchill Downs will run the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes (Juvenile) and the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes (Juvenile Fillies), while Woodbine runs the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Turf Mile). The action continues Sunday at Woodbine with the running of the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and the Grade 1 Summer Stakes (Juvenile Turf).
The full field from the rail out: Cassies Dreamer, Baby Nina, Virginia Eloise, Catherinethegreat, Nonna Madeline, Sippican Harbor, Chasing Yesterday, Guacamole, Bella Ciao, Reflect, Restless Rider, and Love and Honey.
#7 Chasing Yesterday – There is no doubt that this she will be the one that everyone is talking about for several reasons. The half-sister of American Pharoah ships to Saratoga for trainer Bob Baffert and rider Mike Smith, a team that is nearly impossible to beat in New York. As for what she’s done on the track, her only race was an impressive maiden special weight win at Del Mar.
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#4 Catherinethegreat – This runaway Gulfstream Park maiden special weight winner shipped to Saratoga last time out to take home the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes in wire-to-wire fashion by 4 1/4 lengths. That win was probably the most impressive performance by a 2-year-old filly at Saratoga this year. With a repeat performance, she can make it three straight.
#5 Nonna Madeline – A poor break and tough trip may have cost her a win last time out in the Grade 2 Schuylerville Stakes. It was still a nice effort as she finished second, and it was also a steady improvement from her maiden special weight win at Monmouth Park. The filly gets more distance here, which should be to her liking, and hopefully, she will get a little bit of a cleaner trip in this spot.
#10 Reflect – She ships east for this race after a couple of starts on the west coast to begin her career. Her debut race at Santa Anita was very impressive as she dominated a maiden special weight group by nearly 6 lengths. Last time out was a bit disappointing, though, as she was a well-beaten fifth in the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar. Trainer Keith Desormeaux is showing confidence in her by running here instead of in a softer spot.
#11 Restless Rider – Trainer Kenny McPeek brings his top filly to Saratoga for this race after two straight victories to start her career. She was a sharp winner on debut at Churchill Downs in a maiden special weight before dominating the $100K Debutante Stakes by over 11 lengths. That win opened everyone’s eyes and should make her very difficult to beat if she can show up with that same type of effort. The 11-hole won’t do her any favors, but she is the race’s classiest horse.
#6 Sippican Harbor – Her last start was an eye-opener as she dominated a maiden special weight field at this track by 17 lengths. The field’s strength was questionable, but it was still an impressive performance. That sort of win usually leads to a stakes try, which is exactly what she will try to do here. Look for her to go to the lead out of the gate.
#8 Guacamole – It’s hard to believe that this horse has not actually crossed the wire first after two solid efforts to begin her career. She was second by a nose on debut but was moved up to first after being interfered with on the turn. That “win” earned her a shot in the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes, where she once again ran well to finish third. She should enjoy this small stretch out in distance, which makes her dangerous.
#3 Virginia Eloise – After breaking her maiden impressively at Belmont Park, she tried the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes and put up a very strange effort. Down the backside, she fell completely out of the race, and at one point, it looked as if she had been pulled up. Then, out of nowhere, she made a big move in the stretch and nearly won the race, finishing second by a 1/2-length. That makes her a major question mark here, because in her debut, she was close to the lead. What will this horse do here?
#9 Bella Ciao – Trainer Antonio Sano is shipping in Gunnevera to run in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes and is bringing along this horse for a shot at two big wins. She is coming off of a solid 3/4-length score in a maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park going 6 furlongs. Her breeding suggests that this stretch out in distance could be very beneficial.
#12 Love My Honey – The daughter of Shackleford debuted at Saratoga early in the meet with an impressive victory in a maiden special weight. Since then, she filly has been working steadily leading up to this spot. There is no doubt that the competition is tougher here, but the filly is showing signs of progressing well leading up to this race.
#1 Cassies Dreamer – This filly was a winner on debut in a $50K maiden claiming event going 5 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga over a muddy surface. She was claimed out of that race and sent to the barn of Barclay Tagg, who must like what he sees because he’s entered her in this tough race. However, she is also entered for a race on Thursday at Saratoga, too. Combined with this rail draw, it is questionable if she starts here.
#2 Baby Nina – She ships in from Thistledown after winning the $75K Miss Ohio Stakes last time out by 9 lengths. That race was a major turn-around for her, as she lost her debut effort by 21 lengths against maiden special weight company. This will be a huge jump up in class, but if she can continue to show improvement, then she could make an impact here.