The opening weekend at Saratoga concludes on Sunday with another stellar card highlighted by the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), a nine-furlong race for 3yo fillies. The race has drawn an excellent field of eight, and every runner has won or placed in a graded stakes race, which should make for a great betting race. Let’s take a look at who’s running!
Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I)
I’m a big fan of Include Betty, and I picked her to win the Mother Goose, but she doesn’t seem to have quite the same turn-of-foot around two turns as she does around one, and her deep-closing style might not be suited to this race, which doesn’t appear to have much early speed. In fact, the only fillies that have shown any serious interest in having the early lead are Keen Pauline and I’m a Chatterbox. The former stepped up in a huge way last time out when winning the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) in gate-to-wire fashion, and while she’s proven at the distance of the CCA Oaks and possesses a nice finishing kick, she might have taken advantage of a track bias in the Black-Eyed Susan, which is something to consider.
In contrast, I’m a Chatterbox won the Silverbulletday Stakes and Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) while showing great tactical speed, but also rallied from almost ten lengths back in both the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) and the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) to finish first and third, respectively. On the day of the Oaks, the track may have been favoring speed, which makes her late-running effort all the more impressive, and the break that she received after that race should help her recover from her busy winter/spring campaign. She has been training sharply at Delaware Park in preparation for this race, posting four bullet workouts since the beginning of June, and I think she’s a very deserving favorite to win this race.
But that said, Curalina has been very impressive winning her last three starts, and conquered a quality field last time out in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. She proved that she can win around two turns when she romped by 8 1/4 lengths in an 8.5-furlong allowance race at Churchill Downs, and like I’m a Chatterbox, she possesses a nice blend of tactical speed and finishing kick that should enable her to adapt to whatever pace scenario unfolds. From a Beyer speed figure perspective, she fits very well with the top horses in this race, and given her pedigree, she should have no trouble with the extra half-furlong of this race. Also, for what it’s worth, her sire is Curlin, whose progeny won two races on the main track at Sararotga on opening day. I envision Curalina settling a couple of lengths off the lead, then accelerating in the homestretch to catch I’m a Chatterbox and Keen Pauline in the final furlong.