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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – A nine-horse field of promising 2-year-old fillies including Wicked Halo comprise a talented field in the $200,000 Adirondack (G2) contested at 6 1/2 furlongs on Sunday at Saratoga Race Course.
The Adirondack is slated as race 8 on the 10-race card, which also includes the $700,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational (G3) as the second leg of the Turf Triple series for 3-year-old fillies going 1 3/16 miles, and the $120,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose for older fillies and mares going 1 mile on the inner turf.
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Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who saddled last year’s Adirondack winner Thoughtfully, looks to repeat and capture his fourth overall victory in the race by sending out Wicked Halo.
Owned and bred by Winchell Thoroughbreds, Wicked Halo arrives with strong credentials as she is the daughter of the 2015 winner Just Wicked and the 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner.
“They’re basically twins,” said Asmussen, who trained both the homebred Just Wicked and Gun Runner for the Winchell Family, when asked to compare this filly and her dam.
Wicked Halo graduated from the maiden ranks at first asking in June on a muddy Lone Star Park track. Elevated to stakes company last out, she faded to third after leading until late in the 6-furlong Debutante on June 26 at Churchill Downs. She will now be asked to go a 1/2-furlong further.
“Wicked Halo deserves the chance. I ran her back fairly quick after the Debutante from the 1 hole. It could have been different for her,” said Asmussen. “The Gun Runners have run extremely well, and obviously, that’s exciting to us. I do believe that every single one of them will continue to improve with distance and with time, just like he did. It means a little more to us when we send out one of his babies.”
Jose Ortiz will ride from post 7.
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Another filly in the field with famous family ties is Swilcan Stable homebred Mainstay, a half-sister to Vequist, the 2020 Eclipse Award-winning 2-Year-Old Filly and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) victor.
Mainstay, co-owned by LC Racing, romped to a 7 3/4-length score in the slop at Monmouth Park her first time out and then was the runner-up in the Schuylerville (G3) on Saratoga’s Opening Day after an inauspicious start to her race.
“I think she raced a little greenly last time,” said trainer Butch Reid, who also conditions Vequist. “She got a little distracted through the lane. I don’t know if it was the people in the grandstand or what exactly it was, but since that race her concentration has been much better in the mornings and she’s not paying any attention to any of that kind of stuff, so I expect her to run a much better race.
“I think her experience can only help her this time,” he added. “I normally wouldn’t have raced her back this quickly, but she came out of it great and very determined and very serious, so we’re going. I think she just needs a little seasoning and I think having these races under her belt will be nothing but a benefit to her. You can’t live on reputation alone. Now she’s riding on her big sister V’s coattails, but she’s got to prove it on her own.”
Joel Rosario will have the call from post 8.
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Joel Politi’s Microbiome also garnered attention by winning her debut by 5 1/2 lengths on the same day as the Schuylerville. The Tom Amoss trainee drew the outside post 9 with Tyler Gaffalione returning to ride in Microbiome’s first stakes appearance.
“She’s exciting. She showed a lot of talent to us before we ever ran her,” said Amoss, who also trained 2020 Ballerina (G1) winner Serengeti Empress for Politi. “We knew coming up here and debuting her was going to be going against the heavy heads, but I thought she really performed well and that gives us a real reason to think she has a chance on Sunday.”
From the inside post, J L’s Rockette will look to build on her first-out win on June 27 at Ellis Park for Hall of Famer trainer Bill Mott. Owner Frank Fletcher names all of his horses for his beloved dog Rockette, and J L’s Rockette got her moniker after he purchased this daughter of Into Mischief for $750,000.
“She’s progressed nicely since she’s been here from Kentucky,” said Mott, who is lacking an Adirondack victory on his lengthy Hall of Fame resume. “We’ve got several good works in her. She seems like with the additional training she’s become stronger and fitter, but she’ll have to be stronger and fitter to compete with this group.”
Junior Alvarado will be in the irons.
Ontheonesandtwos is a filly on the upswing after closing strongly in a runner-up Debutante effort by lone length, following her winning first-out performance at Churchill Downs in May for trainer Norm Casse.
“I think she’s doing really well and we’re excited about running in the Adirondack and seeing what the future holds,” Casse said. “It’s a pretty good test but I think she’s ready. She’s done really well since we got her up here and her last breeze was excellent so it’s time to see where she fits with all of these other good fillies.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride the daughter of Jimmy Creed for the first time, breaking from post 2.
“He’s been working her, and he likes her,” Casse said. “It’s time to see where she fits. I know I’m running a horse that’s doing well and is happy. That’s all you can hope for.”
Reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox will saddle Interstatedaydream, a daughter of 2016 Champion Juvenile Colt Classic Empire. She won her debut at Belmont Park in June by a head in a game effort. Luis Saez will ride from post 6.
Rounding out the field is Saucy Lady T, for trainer James Chapman (post 3, Manny Franco); Shesawildjoker, for conditioner David Donk (Hall of Famer John Velazquez, post 4); and the Gregory Sacco-trained Boss Lady Kim (post 5, Ricardo Santana Jr.).
The 105th edition of the Adirondack, named for the mountain range in eastern New York, has been the proving ground for many future champions, with modern-era winners encompassing Sky Beauty, My Miss Aurelia, Folklore, Sacahuista, Storm Song, and Smart Angle, who have used this race as a springboard.
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