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amNY at the Track: Nest vs. Secret Oath in Alabama Stakes rubber match, plus an embarrassment at Churchill Downs

Subsequent to the Kentucky Oaks run the Friday earlier than the Kentucky Derby, the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga is the greatest race of the yr for three-year-old fillies — and it’s shaping as much as an actual traditional as Nest and Secret Oath sq. off for the third time this yr.

Secret Oath gained the first showdown in the Kentucky Oaks with an excellent trip beneath Luis Saez for 86-year-old Corridor of Fame coach D. Wayne Lukas. Nest completed second in the Oaks and the Belmont Stakes, then turned the tables on Secret Oath in the Teaching Membership American Oaks in July at Saratoga with a dominant win beneath Irad Ortiz Jr. for coach Todd Pletcher.

They’re dealing with 5 different challengers, solely two of which may publish a severe upset menace. 

142nd Alabama Stakes
Saturday, Aug. 20
Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Springs NY
Distance: 1 1/4 Miles
Situations: 3-year-old fillies
Purse: $600,000
TV: FS1 (publish time 5:32 p.m.)

The sphere

Odds through Horse Racing Nation

Evaluation and picks

The race is solely Nest’s to lose. Having almost overwhelmed Mo Donegal in the Belmont Stakes at 1 1/2 miles, it’s unimaginable to consider Nest gained’t be capable to get the journey over the two-furlong shorter Alabama Stakes. Her win in the Teaching Membership American Oaks over the similar Saratoga course was as decisive as a 10-length victory needs to be, and he or she left Secret Oath in her mud.

That mentioned, may Secret Oath flip the tables on Nest this time? It’s doable. She bought caught four-wide in the Teaching Membership American Oaks round the clubhouse flip and the backstretch. Secret Oath and Nest broke away collectively from the pack round the far flip, however by the high of the stretch, Secret Oath was spent, whereas Nest had lots left in the tank.

The skin journey clearly took so much out of Secret Oath, and drawing the exterior publish in the Alabama Stakes definitely doesn’t assist her trigger. Saez might want to discover a technique to the rail sooner; which means both gunning Secret Oath to the lead from the begin, or breaking her extra slowly to get to the inside, even when she’s caught behind the frontrunners.

Gerrymander comes into the Alabama Stakes off a stable win in the Mom Goose Stakes at 1 1/16 Miles. However that race was run round one flip; the Alabama can be her first check round two turns, and a full 3/16 of a mile longer. Arduous to see her overcoming these challenges and beating horses of the caliber of Nest and Secret Oath, although she’s a great play for the trifecta and superfecta.

A extra doubtless upset contender, nonetheless, is Goddess of Fireplace, who completed a hard-charging second in the Wilton Stakes on Saratoga’s opening day card, on the newly-reconstructed Wilson Chute at a mile. It was her first begin after a two-month layoff after a tenth place displaying in the Kentucky Oaks. However she’s bought considered one of the finest jockeys in racing in John Velazquez in the irons, and it’s onerous to think about why Pletcher would enter her in the Alabama if he didn’t assume she’d have an opportunity to hit the board.

Our picks: Nest, Secret Oath, Goddess of Fireplace

Off matter: An embarrassing Arlington Million

Churchill Downs ran the Arlington Million and Beverly D Stakes — two prestigious turf races it relocated from now-shuttered Arlington Park in suburban Chicago — final Saturday on a turf course unworthy of status.

To horse racing followers throughout the nation, it was shameful to observe.

Since rebuilding the turf course inside its historic filth essential observe final yr, Churchill Downs has had one complication after one other on the grass. It was reopened in time for the spring meet on April 30, every week forward of the Kentucky Derby, however subsequently closed and renovated midway through its spring/summer meet on account of the course’s poor situation, which contributed to at least one deadly horse breakdown.

The observe superintendent’s crew lower the grass, hoping it might blossom and flourish in time for Aug. 13, the particular one-day meet created particularly for the Arlington Million. Churchill Downs had planned several other turf stakes for the card, however all of them have been scrapped forward of race day as a result of they weren’t assured that the course would stand up to a number of turf races forward of the Beverly D and Arlington Million.

Monitor administration made the Beverly D and Arlington Million the solely “grass” races on the card, run 3 1/2 hours aside to accommodate for rail adjustments in an effort to maintain the observe manageable. But the grass seemed removed from an best racing floor, to most observers; it was straightforward to see tufts of grass and clouds of mud too simply kicked up on the runners’ hooves all through each contests.

The grand disgrace of it’s Arlington Park, which Churchill Downs administration shuttered final yr in a pending land sale with the Chicago Bears, was recognized to have considered one of the finest turf programs in the world. It sat idle and empty, awaiting the wrecking ball, whereas Churchill Downs raced the Beverly D and Arlington Million on a turf course unworthy of a champion (no disrespect to the races’ respective winners, Dalika and Santin — they ran nice on a substandard observe). 

It’s onerous to think about Churchill Downs’ turf can be in higher form for its September and November meets, so for those who’re a horse participant who likes the grass races, you’ll need to look elsewhere for good turf this fall.

Kentucky Downs runs a brief, however extremely profitable meet this September promising a few of the richest, and sure crowded, turf races in the nation. Domestically, after Saratoga wraps up on Labor Day, flip your consideration to the Belmont Park at the Huge A gathering, the place Aqueduct Racetrack presents two lush inexperienced tracks.

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