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Owner Ed Stanco leads Princess of Sylmar to the winner's circle after the 2013 Coaching Club American Oaks
The feature race on the Saturday of the Saratoga opening weekend is the $300,000 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), featuring some of the top 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles, one complete lap of the main track. The 19,138 fans in attendance enjoyed mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 80's, with intermittent rain showers late in the card. Unlimited Budget was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the field of 5, exiting a 6th place finish in the Belmont Stakes (G1) after finishing 3rd in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). In to challenge her included 2-1 second choice Princess of Sylmar, winner of the Kentucky Oaks, and 5-2 third choice My Happy Face, winner of the Lotka Stakes last out.
Princess of Sylmar draws away in the stretch
Saratoga Opening Day - with the James Marvin Stakes (G3) and Schuylerville Stakes (G3)
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 Princess of Sylmar Castellano 6.30 3.50 2.60 1 My Happy Face Rosario 3.80 3.50 5 Marathon Lady Albarado 3.50 Winning Time: 1:51.07 $2 Exacta 4-1 20.40 $2 Trifecta 4-1-5 72.50
Left: Princess of Sylmar in the winner's circle. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "I thought she was always traveling really well. There wasn't a lot of pace in there and they were tightly bunched. We made a mistake in the Gazelle when we felt like Close Hatches was the only speed. We kind of took her out of her running style, so I told Javier regardless of the pace, don't do that, just let her find her rhythm. I think she's got a very strong closing kick regardless of the fractions; just let her do her thing."
Right: Princess of Sylmar heads returns after the race. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "I really liked the way she did it. It was a great performance today. She ran like the best horse in the race. I'm really proud of her. She's a come-from-behind horse. There was a lot of speed in the race, and they hooked up. The biggest thing was it was a small field today, and she was able to come from behind. She did a great job. It's amazing. I was on the right filly. It was my second winner today and my first Grade 1 for the meet. I'm looking forward big-time and I hope I can get many more."
Left: Princess of Sylmar heads out to the track before the race.
Right: Princess of Sylmar heads back to the barns. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "We had a choice to make in February whether to bring her down to Florida. Honestly, people who were at Aqueduct this winter were more impressed than the people who don't pay close attention to Aqueduct. So, maybe even though they were not really against the best fillies in the country, they were very impressive performances. I think everyone kind of lost sight of the fact that going into the Kentucky Oaks, it was billed as the best Oaks we've seen in 25 years, this filly wins it and gets virtually no respect. I think today she put herself at the top of the leader board, and now everyone understands that the Kentucky Oaks was a real race."
Left: Second place finisher My Happy Face returns after the race. Jockey Joel Rosario said, "Perfect trip. We were second best. She went good, relaxed really nicely, and she was keeping going. The winner was just much the best. She didn't quit. She was turning for home and still trying. I feel like she gave me a good ride."
Right: Third place finisher Marathon Lady in the paddock. The 13-1 longest shot stalked the pace under jockey Robby Albarado, then tired late to get third beaten 7 3/4 lengths. The Steve Hobby trainee improved her record to 1 win, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds in 8 starts, earning $263,100 for owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong.
Left: Beaten favorite Unlimited Budget returns after the race. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "She missed the break completely and Johnny (Velazquez) had to hustle her into a spot on the inside, and it just all went wrong right at the start. We were anticipating being in a close stalking position with her, and that all went wrong."
Right: The fillies break from the gate for the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Authenticity takes the lead in the stretch
Eblouissante was unruly at the gate, sitting down in the starting stall requiring jockey Rosie Napravnik to dismount. When the gate opened, Eblouissante bumped with 27-1 longest shot Moon Philly while jockey Jose Lezcano sent 8-1 Sea Island to the front. Sea Island set slow fractions of 25.46, 50.80, and 1:15.03 while pressed by Authenticity to her outside. At the top of the lane, Sea Island tired allowing Authenticity to inherit the lead through 1 mile in 1:39.63. Flashy American, fourth early put in a late rally but Authenticity easily held her off by 1 length for the win in 1:52.33. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to pacesetting Sea Island third, while Eblouissante checked in last, beaten 30 1/4 lengths.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Authenticity Velazquez 3.00 2.30 2.10 2 Flashy American Rosario 4.30 2.80 5 Sea Island Lezcano 2.90 Winning Time: 1:52.33 $2 Exacta 7-2 10.20 $2 Trifecta 7-2-5 29.20 $2 Superfecta 7-2-5-4 93.50
Left: Authenticity in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "It was pretty straightforward. We had a favorable post. You can put her on the lead, you can let her stalk, take her back if you wanted to. The main thing is we wanted her to be in a nice, comfortable rhythm. It's been really hot the last few days and we felt like shipping to Delaware could maybe compromise her later in the year. We have a favorable setup here at Saratoga; we love to win here and maybe this sets her up well for the Personal Ensign."
Right: Authenticity behind the starting gate. Jockey John Velazquez said, "I knew it was going to be a slow pace, but I didn't want to be on the lead, either. I kind of eased off from the other horse and got her to relax. By the 3/8 pole she got into that nice rhythm, and she did it pretty easy. I didn't want to be on the lead because I know when she gets to the lead she's going to be waiting. I kind of hit her a couple of times when I saw (Flashy American), and she went on easy."
Left: Second place finisher Flashy American in the paddock. The 6-1 third choice raced fourth early under jockey Joel Rosario, then rallied late to get second beaten a length. The Ken McPeek trainee improved her record to 5 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds in 20 starts, earning $265,133 for owner Preston Stables LLC.
Right: Third place finisher Sea Island heads out for the post parade. The 8-1 fourth choice set the pace under jockey Jose Lezcano then tired late to finish third beaten 3 1/4 lengths. The Shug McGaughey trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 6 seconds, and 1 third in 15 starts, earning $329,640 for owner-breeder Phipps Stable.
Left: Eblouissante poses for the fans in the paddock. She definitely knows how to play up to an audience like her half sister Zenyatta did.
Right: Eblouissante acting up in the gate. She actually sat down on her butt after she reared up. Jockey Rosie Napravnik said, "It was a long wait in the gate, and she got a little nervous and started acting up."
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