March 28, 2023

Gamine heads six in Test

Gamine wins Acorn Stakes 2020
Gamine wins Acorn Stakes 2020 (Coglianese Photos/Elsa Lorieul)

After a record-setting romp in the Acorn (G1), Gamine will cut back to 7-furlongs for Saturday’s $300,000 Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. Her five rivals have their work cut out for them, but Gamine will meet an interesting new foe in Grade 2 winner Venetian Harbor, who will make her first attempt at a sprint since breaking her maiden by a 10-length margin in late December.

Gamine has thrived in both one-turn starts, breaking her maiden by a 6 1/4-length margin and taking the one-mile Acorn by 18 3/4 lengths, and the spectacular daughter of Into Mischief will remain in her comfort zone Saturday with jockey John Velazquez. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert still plans to run his star pupil in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks (G1) on Sept. 4.

It will be interesting to see the early tactics. Gamine has set the pace in all three starts, but Venetian Harbor brings quality speed to the equation from her far outside post. Based in Southern California, the Richard Baltas-trained Venetian Harbor will turn back to a sprint after faltering on the lead in her last two outings, non-threatening seconds in the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland and Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn Park. Joel Rosario guides the front-running Munnings filly.

Perfect Alibi captured the Spinaway (G1) and Adirondack (G2) at Saratoga last summer, and the Mark Casse trainee is eligible to improve upon her seasonal opener, a fifth in the Acorn. Tyler Gaffalione will be up on the late runner. Juvenile Grade 1 scorer Wicked Whisper also seeks to improve upon a disappointing unplaced effort off a long layoff, checking in a well-beaten fourth in the July 10 Beaumont (G3) at Keeneland, and Ricardo Santana Jr. rides for Steve Asmussen.

Gulfstream stakes winner Up in Smoke and two-time allowance runner-up Mrs. Danvers complete the field.