New Money Honey (Medaglia d’Oro) and Javier Castellano win the Belmont Oaks Invitational (Gr I) at Belmont Park
E Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ New Money Honey will look to parlay her success on the turf to the main track when she makes her dirt debut in the 137th running of the $ 600,000 Alabama for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
New Money Honey has four wins and a runner-up finish in six starts and will be going for her third Grade 1 victory in as many starts to headline a nine-horse field.
The Chad Brown trainee will be returning to the Spa for the first time since finishing second in her first start in September 2016, an effort that she parlayed into a maiden-breaking win in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo and a half-length score in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf to cap her 2-year-old year.
New Money Honey thrived at the Alabama distance of 1 ¼ miles last out when she rallied to defeat stablemate Sistercharlie by a neck in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks on July 8.
“I’m excited about trying her on the dirt; this filly has been training super,” Brown said. “It’s something I’ve always thought about; running her on the dirt now seems like the right time to try it. The distance of the race should really suit her.”
Newly minted Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who has ridden New Money Honey in all of her starts, will have the return call from the rail. Castellano has three Alabama victories to his credit, including Embellish the Lace in 2015.
Unchained Melody will make her Saratoga debut coming off an impressive three-length win in the Grade 2 Mother Goose on July 1 at Belmont Park. The Smart Strike filly has breezed four times on the Spa’s main track since shipping from Belmont, preparing for her first start of longer than 1 1/16 miles.
“She needed to get over this track to get used to going a mile and a quarter,” trainer Brian Lynch said. “If she improves again, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Unchained Melody earned a personal-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure for her Mother Goose win, which marked her first stakes appearance and third in four career starts. All of her wins have featured her either serving as the pacemaker or sitting just off the lead, which Lynch said could play into the strategy in the Alabama.
“I don’t think there is a lot of speed, so if she’s comfortable on the lead, then I’ll leave her alone,” Lynch said. “She’s been good. A lot of horses do well up here this time of year and she appears to be one of them.”
Joel Rosario, who rode her for the first time in the Mother Goose, will be in the irons again from post 5.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will saddle a pair of entries looking for their first respective graded stakes wins after numerous close finishes in Lockdown and Elate. Mott seeks his third Alabama victory to join Royal Delta in 2011 and Sweet Symphony in 2005.
Lockdown finished second to Unchained Melody in the Mother Goose, building on a third-place effort in her first career Grade 1 when she finished behind Daddys Lil Darling and winner Abel Tasman in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 5.
The Juddmonte Farms’ homebred has finished on the board in all six career starts, going 2-3-1, including a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Gazelle on April 8 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Lockdown breezed a bullet four furlongs in 47.98 over the Oklahoma training track on Tuesday in her final work before Saturday.
“She went fine, went really good,” Mott said. “She went nice and galloped out well. We’ve entered her, and it will be a tougher group, but we’ll see what happens.”
Manny Franco will ride from post 4.
Elate also finished second to Abel Tasman in a Grade 1, finishing 3 ¼-lengths behind in the Coaching Club American Oaks on July 23 at 1 1/8 miles at the Spa. Owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Elate is 2-3-1 in seven starts, winning the Light Hearted on June 15 at Delaware Park.
Jose Ortiz will depart from post 7.
Salty broke badly in the Coaching Club American Oaks but recovered to finish third. Following a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Acorn – also to Able Tasman – in which she earned a 98 Beyer, Salty rallied from last in the American Oaks to finish in the money for the fifth time in six career starts for trainer Mark Casse.
Owned by Gary Barber and Baccari Racing Stable and Chester Prince, Salty will be stretching out to the 1 ¼ miles for the first time.
“Salty is doing really well and we’re excited,” said Norm Casse, assistant and son of Mark. “She still has some questions to answer about her preferred distance, but we know she likes it here and likes the racetrack. Had she not broken so poorly, she would have been right there in the Coaching Club, so she deserves every opportunity to run.
“Other than the Travers, I feel like the Alabama is the most prestigious race that Saratoga runs, so to have an opportunity to win that race with a filly like Salty would be amazing.”
Salty has breezed three times on Saratoga’s main track, including a bullet four-furlong work in 47.89 seconds on August 11 that was the fastest of 57.
“She seems to like it here, she’s been breezing good and she gives me the confidence that she’ll go out there and run her race,” Casse said. “She’s been unlucky, so if she can catch a break or two, she can get her deserved Grade 1. All indications are she is doing well. She’s yet to have anything go her way. I would love for her to have one opportunity where things go her way.”
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will ride from post 6.
Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan winner Actress drew post 9 in her first Saratoga race. Trained by Jason Servis, the Tapit filly ran third in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks last out, which was her lowest finish in four career starts.
Actress, who was unraced as a juvenile, broke her maiden in the Black-Eyed Susan, finishing a head in front of Lights of Medina at Pimlico Race Course. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride.
Mopotism is coming off back-to-back runner-up finishes in graded stakes competition contested at 1 1/16 miles. The Doug O’Neill trainee saw the Uncle Mo filly close late to hit the wire just one length behind Overture in the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks last out on July 15 and a similar late push allowed her to finish just a head behind Faypien in the Grade 2 Summer Oaks on June 17 at Santa Anita Park.
Florent Geroux will load in from post 8.
It Tiz Well, for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, won the Delaware Oaks. The filly by Arch is 4-1-2 in eight career starts. She will have the services of jockey Drayden Van Dyke in her first Saratoga start, drawing post 3.
Holy Helena will make her graded stakes debut following a win in the Queen’s Plate on July 2 at Woodbine for trainer Jimmy Jerkens. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will have the mount from post 2.
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