Contentious Schuylerville kicks off Saratoga meet
Wednesday's $100,000 Schuylerville S. (G3) is a fitting opening-day feature at Saratoga, as the six-furlong test is a microcosm of the Spa season. Now in its 91st running, the Schuylerville combines a palpable sense of history, a competitive field of 13 juvenile fillies from top connections, and the hope of seeing a star in action.
The Wesley Ward-trained AEGEAN (Northern Afleet) will try to get back on track after finishing ninth in the Albany S. (Eng-G3) at Royal Ascot. The bay had won both of her previous American outings, including a victory over her erstwhile stablemate Jealous Again (Trippi) in the Kentucky Juvenile S. (G3) at Churchill Downs. Jealous Again went on to conquer the Queen Mary S. (Eng-G2) next time out and was promptly snapped up by Godolphin.
Aegean signaled her happiness to return to dirt with a bullet half-mile in :46 4/5 at Monmouth on July 17, best of 56 works at the distance. She picks up the services of Jesus Castanon.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will send out the undefeated DECELERATOR (Dehere), who remained perfect from two starts with a hard-fought decision in the Debutante S. (G3) at Churchill Downs. The dark bay will break from post 5, just to the outside of Aegean, beneath a returning Julien Leparoux.
The ever-dangerous Steve Asmussen will be represented by the uncoupled duo of HOT DIXIE CHICK (Dixie Union) and KINSOLVING (Posse). Hot Dixie Chick was just outdueled by Decelerator in her debut, but she improved second time out to break her maiden in track-record time at Churchill. Robby Albarado sticks with the dark bay, who promises to come out smoking from her rail post.
"She's stepping up from a maiden win to stakes company, but she's very precocious," assistant trainer Scott Blasi said of Hot Dixie Chick. "She's done well, and her last work (five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.44 on July 19) was pretty sharp."
Kinsolving turned in the same time as Hot Dixie Chick on the Oklahoma training track that day. Unlike her stablemate, Kinsolving should drop back off the pace with new rider Edgar Prado. Sixth to Aegean in the Kentucky Juvenile, she is coming off a third to Decelerator in the Debutante.
Ken McPeek will also be double-handed, courtesy of impressive Churchill debut maiden winners VIVID COLORS (Roman Ruler) and BEAUTICIAN (Dehere). With Albarado getting off both of them, Calvin Borel takes over the reins for Vivid Colors, and Kent Desormeaux teams up with Beautician.
Other contenders include FRANNY FREUD (Freud), runner-up in the My Dear S. at Woodbine last time out, and sharp maiden scorers COWGIRL MALLY (Gone West), SASSY IMAGE (Broken Vow), SO N SO (Freud), THAT'S HOW I ROLL (Speightstown) and WILD WITHOUT WINE (Kela).
Earlier on Wednesday's card, Grade 2-winning millionaire PYRO (Pulpit) will make his seasonal reappearance, and Godolphin debut, in the $80,500 James Marvin S. at seven furlongs. Formerly trained by Asmussen, the dark bay was a powerful winner of the 2008 Louisiana Derby (G2), Risen Star S. (G3) and Northern Dancer S. (G3) while placing in such contests as the Travers S. (G1) and Jim Dandy S. (G2) at Saratoga.
Pyro, who was last seen finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on Pro-Ride, will face eight opponents. His most serious challengers are last year's U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) victor HONOUR DEVIL (Arg) (Honour and Glory), now with Kiaran McLaughlin; recent Tom Fool H. (G2) runner-up RILEY TUCKER (Harlan's Holiday); Aristides S. (G3) winner BOLD START (Jump Start); and multiple Grade 3 hero FINALLYMADEIT (Concerto), exiting a fourth in the Suburban H. (G1).
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