Ten to Take On Test


Trainer Bob Baffert sends out the lightly raced Faypien in Saturday’s Test Stakes at Saratoga.

Ten 3-year-old fillies will tackle the seven-furlong distance of the $500,000 Test Stakes (GI) at Saratoga, the traditional prep for the Alabama Stakes (GI) later in the summer meet at the upstate New York track. This year, seven local fillies will line up and face the starter and will be joined by three California shippers, including Baoma Corp.’s Faypien in an attempt to give her Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert a third win in the historic event.

Speaking of history, since the Test was first contested in 1922, dozens of fast fillies have collected a victory for their proud connections, especially from the 1960s until now, with names like Moccasin, Gamely, Ta Wee, Numbered Account, Desert Vixen, My Juliet, Lady’s Secret, Safely Kept, Go For Wand, Versailles Treaty and Indian Blessing. Not sure if any of the ten who will break from the gate will have careers like the aforementioned, but it stands to reason they’re going to try.

Faypien is riding a three-race win streak, including a head victory in the Summertime Oaks (GII) at Santa Anita in June. The $750,000 daughter of Ghostzapper has been training lights out for Baffert since that race and her last work, which was a bullet five furlongs in :59-1/5 from the gate on Sunday, was impressive and not indicative of a filly who has raced just four times.

Her figures overall are steadily improving and she’s already won at this distance, so if she can handle her first cross-country ship, she will be dangerous. Rafael Bejarano returns to ride and though she may want the early lead from post eight, she’s proven she can be rated just behind the speed if necessary. Lately her trainer hasn’t had any luck at all if it hasn’t been bad luck, so hopefully this filly can join stablemate Abel Tasman and make Saratoga a positive experience for Baffert.

Kaleem Shah’s Victory Ride Stakes (GIII) winner American Gal ships back in to New York for trainer Simon Callaghan and the daughter of Concord Point has trained exceptionally well at Del Mar since her last win. She broke her maiden at six furlongs and then had some issues winning around two turns, but cutting her back proved a good decision judging by her last win by 4 ¾ lengths, and it stands to reason the extra sixteenth is in her wheelhouse. She has a new rider in Jose Ortiz since Flavien Prat is staying in California to ride the favorite in the Sorrento Stakes (GII), among others. She will have to hustle to her preferred spot on the lead from the break from the outside with other speed to her inside and if she can withstand some company she will be tough.

Tequilita won the Forward Gal Stakes (GII) at Gulfstream Park in fine fashion at this distance this winter but has struggled stretching out in two-turn races for trainer Michael Matz since. Cutting back here, if she returns to that form, the top choices better keep an eye out on the daughter of Union Rags rolling from at least mid-pack or father back in the early going.

Chalon has posted some big figures in her four-race career, including a nice speed number in winning the Jersey Girl Stakes at Belmont in June. The Steve Miller-trained and Rockingham Ranch owned daughter of Dialed In has shown she needs the lead and has put up some hot early fractions, but not against some of the tougher rivals like she’ll face here. She’s been working steadily at her base of San Luis Rey Downs since her last and has the talent, ability and shipping experience. She just seems to need to have things go her way all the way in order to win.

Divine Miss Gray has won three in a row, including a claiming race, a starter allowance and an optional claiming since trainer Danny Gargan took over her conditioning duties in May. Her ability to sit off the pace is a bonus in this race, it just seems like the daughter of Divine Park is more comfortable against softer company.

Vertical Oak chased the pace in the Victory Ride last out but could not get up to pass the winners. The extra sixteenth may help her and it may be important to mention that the Steve Asmussen-trained daughter of Giant Oak has earned some decent numbers that could put her in the thick of things for a piece of the pie here.

Paul Pompa’s Your Love rides a two-race win skein into this race and makes a logical step up in company. She’s been training regularly over this track and is bred to like more distance, but this extra sixteenth of her last is a good place to start, as is this competition for the promising daughter of Flatter.

Poindexter Thoroughbreds’ stakes winner Chanel’s Legacy makes her first start for trainer Chad Summers and though the daughter of Dominus is pretty consistent, she hasn’t shown she can run with the best ones in here.

Minnie Blip leads the field to post off an optional claiming race at Churchill in June, where she won by open lengths and put up a big speed number. The Al Stall-trained daughter of Algorithims is facing her stiffest challenge yet and is another need-the-lead type, but her best makes her a must-use on any exotics ticket.

Cursor just won her first condition and it seems like she’ll need more experience first before being a factor against the likes of this bunch.

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.

She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.

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