Decked Out and jockey Kent Desormeaux, left, overpower Sassy Little Lila (Luis Saez), right, to win the Grade I, $ 300,000 American Oaks
Trainer Brad Cox said Sassy Little Lila came out of her last breeze in good order as the 4-year-old Artie Schiller filly prepares to face boys in the Grade 1, $ 500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Cox said that Sassy Little Lila, who worked four furlongs in 48.99 seconds on the Oklahoma turf training track last Saturday, is well-rested after her second-place effort in the Grade 1 Just a Game on Belmont Stakes Day, June 10. She registered a personal-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure in that effort, falling just three-quarters of a length short to Antonoe on the turf.
After three victories and four runner-up finishes from eight starts, including second in the Grade 1 American Oaks on December 31 at Santa Anita, Cox said Sassy Little Lila will be looking for her first Grade 1 victory in facing a field that is expected to include American Patriot, Ballagh Rocks, Disco Partner, Time Test and World Approval.
Sassy Little Lila will carry 112 pounds in the handicap.
“After the Just a Game, we knew it was an option. We’ve been watching to see who may run in it,” Cox said Monday morning. “We’re thinking it’s coming up a short field. Not a light field, but a short field. She has speed. We’ll just see how it plays out. We’re getting in light. It’s an interesting spot and she’s doing great, so we think she’s up for that challenge.”
Sassy Little Lila has been successful as a pacesetter, and the potential lack of speed in the Fourstardave prompted Cox to skip last weekend’s Fasig-Tipton De La Rose. Cox said the Fourstardave distance of one mile on the turf, plus the timing, made the race more attractive than waiting for the Grade 2, $ 400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa on August 26.
“That played a role in the decision to come out of the De La Rose for sure,” Cox said. “That factored in on the decision to try against the boys. We don’t feel like we have to run her a mile but it was either wait there or go to the Ballston Spa. We’re sitting on over two months now between races and we feel like we’re sitting on a filly who is ready to run. She’s sitting on a big effort.”
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