Longshot Looming in Alabama Stakes?

Today’s Grade I Alabama Stakes at Saratoga features an extremely well-matched group of nine 3-year-old fillies looking to add their names to a roster of previous winners that includes It’s In The Air, Open Mind, Go For Wand, Silverbulletday, Royal Delta… and, oh yeah, a horse named Songbird, who took top honors in the $600,000 event last year. Below is a horse-by-horse look at the entrants:

1-NewMoneyHoney

This gal tries dirt for the first time after having established herself as a bonafide turf star with two Grade I scores on the lawn — last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and, more recently, the Belmont Oaks. Making the surface switch even more interesting is the fact that trainer Chad Brown excels at it — 30 percent wins and a positive ROI over the past year — and New Money Honey’s speed and pace figures (arguably the best in the field). She also proved in the Belmont Oaks that today’s 1 ¼-mile distance is not a problem. Huge contender at what should be a generous price.

Fair Odds: 7/2

2-HolyHelena

Canadian-bred daughter of Ghostzapper is getting a lot of attention after her impressive score against the boys in the $1 million Queen’s Plate Stakes at Woodbine in her last start. But, while her speed and pace figures make her a definite contender, I’m not sure there’s any value here. Frankly, this year’s edition of the Alabama is chockfull of talent, so the tote board will be paramount to me. I’d want at least 9/2 on this filly and would prefer 6/1 or better.

Fair Odds: 6/1

3-ItTizWell

Jerry Hollendorfer trainee is improving and, judging by her pedigree, should relish the added distance, but she’ll need to run the race of her life to make any noise against this crew.

Fair Odds: 12/1

4-Lockdown

This is the first of the likely well-bet horses that I’m not real enamored with. Clearly the Juddmonte Farms filly has talent — that was demonstrated in her excellent performance in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), But her pace figures — specifically, her late pace figures — are just so-so and, barring significant improvement, that’s not going to cut it against today’s foes.

Fair Odds: 15/1

5-UnchainedMelody

Daughter of Smart Strike is the likely pacesetter and her speed and pace figures say she’s got a great chance of going wire-to-wire today. Not only are her late speed rations (LSRs) improving, but she’s recorded positive Pace Profiles in each of her last two races (meaning she ran relatively faster late than early), which is extremely important given today’s extended distance.

Fair Odds: 7/2

6-Salty

This gal is a hard call for me. Overall, she looks good — a Grade II winner with excellent speed and pace figures in great hands and great form… heck, she even has a recent bullet work in tow. Still, there’s nothing particularly compelling about her. Hence, I’ll let the odds make my final decision. I think 9/2 (her morning line odds) is fair.

Fair Odds: 9/2

7-Elate

Though she’s 8-1 on the morning line, this Bill Mott trainee has a lot of positives, including the best overall LSRs — on dirt — in the field. I do wonder whether she can sustain the improvement she’s shown over the past couple of months, but, if she can, she could prove formidable at a great price.

Fair Odds: 6/1

8-Mopotism

Clearly the connections have thought highly of this filly for a long time, as she competed in a Grade I event (finishing third behind Abel Tasman) before she’d even broken her maiden. Unfortunately, her two other Grade I forays did not go so well — she finished a dismal 10th in the Kentucky Oaks and was also badly beaten in the Santa Anita Oaks before that. But I was really impressed by her effort in the Indiana Oaks, in which she recorded a race-best last-race LSR of +4 while finishing second behind Overture, who got an easy early lead (opening half-mile in :49.63) and won handily. Doug O’Neill trainee is a must-use for me.

Fair Odds: 8/1

9-Actress

Lightly raced daughter of Tapit is headed in the right direction, but this is a big step up in class. Insist on a price.

Fair Odds: 15/1

Betting Suggestions:

Exacta 1,5,8 with 1,5,7,8.

Derek Simon
Derek Simon is the Senior Editor and Handicapper at US Racing.
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