Go For Wand, Lady’s Secret, Hot N Nasty, Ta Wee, Gamely,
Vagrancy and Indian Blessing. Those are just a few of the lofty names that
grace the illustrious 95 years roster of Test Stakes winners. Nine fillies will
contest 86th running of the Test Stakes (gr.1) at Saratoga on
Saturday and attempt to stake their claim as best one-turn 3-year-old filly in
the land. While the Test was first run in 1922 at a distance of 1 ¼ miles it
was changed to its current seven furlong distance in 1926 after a three year absence.
Interestingly eight of the nine fillies set to contest the 2011 Test Stakes
enter off stakes races at Belmont Park with just American Lady entering off an allowance
score at Hollywood Park.
The big name in the Test is dual Grade 1 winner Turbulent Descent who had a serious wrench thrown into her targeted championship-winning campaign
when given a thorough thrashing by It’s Tricky in the Acorn Stakes (Gr.1) last
out. After nixing a possible run in the Kentucky Oaks earlier this year, trainer
Mike Puype announced his intention to win the three-year-old filly championship
with Turbulent Descent while racing in the best one-turn races for fillies in
the nation. After she won the Beaumont Stakes (gr.2) at Keeneland by five
lengths Turbulent Descent appeared poised to run away with the sophomore sprint
division in the Acorn Stakes (gr.1). That all changed when she finished almost
four lengths behind It’s Tricky. While it was her first time over a sloppy
track, she did finish a full ten lengths ahead of Her Smile in third, who came
back to win the Grade 1 Prioress Stakes with a thrilling turn of foot. She
seems to be coming into the Test in splendid form after her surprising defeat,
having turned in two very impressive five furlong works in mid July as well as
a 1:12.80 six furlong and a :48.20 work at Del Mar in her two most recent
moves. Expect her to come out swinging with her best shot, which will be more
than enough to put her in the winner’s circle.
[Turbulent Descent ransk #6 on HRN's 3-year-old filly rankings page. Will she return to the winners circle in the Test, or can Her Smile or Pomeroy's Pistol register an upset?]
Her Smile has had a rocky 2011 to put it mildly,
finishing 4th and 3rd in stakes to begin her year, before
finishing a good second in the Comely Stakes (Gr.2), a horrible 11th
in the Kentucky Oaks and then a very distant third in the Acorn Stakes on June
11th. She put all that behind her when she came from dead-last in a
field of six fillies to capture the Prioress Stakes in a sparkling time of
1:09.44 for the six furlongs. The Include filly came flying up around the far
turn under a hand ride by Javier Castellano, went two wide into the turn before
finding a three horse barricade directly in her path. Darting to the inside she
spurted through a hole on the rail and held off a strong charge from Pomeroy’s
Pistol to register a half length victory. She enters the Test off an excellent
:46.97 four furlong breeze at Saratago, and will be looking to give owner and
celebrity chef Bobby Flay, his second Grade 1 win since purchasing the filly
and transferring her to trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn in late April. If her
Prioress form holds up and she relishes the extra furlong she will be a strong
force to reckon with.
Pomeroy’s Pistol made headlines by winning the Forward
Gal Stakes (gr.2) earlier this year, but failed to produce efforts nearly as
good in her next two starts, finishing third in the Davona Dale Stakes (gr.2)
and sixth in the Eight Belle Stakes (gr.3). She returned with an easy 4 ½ length
win in the Just Smashing Stakes at Monmouth Park before running a terrific race
to finish second in the Prioress Stakes (gr.1) behind Her Smile. She ran a
three furlong :35.00 bullet work on July 31, her only work since the July 4th
Prioress. According to trainer/owner Amy Tarrant the daughter of Pomeroy needs
very little work between races to stay fit. She moved wide all the way around
the far turn and down the stretch in the Prioress and missed the win by just
half a length. I think she’s poised to run another good race.
Ava K. enters off two straight stakes wins at Belmont
Park. This will be her second graded stakes attempt after finishing third in
the Comely Stakes (Gr.3), two lengths behind Her Smile in second. She’s
consistent, but hasn’t stepped up to face fillies of this caliber since the
Comely, except this field is much tougher.
The rest of the field consists of Salty Strike, last seen
finishing 4th in the Mother Goose Stakes, Savvy Supreme, Coax Liberty who enters off a two length victory over Savvy Supreme in the Sometime
Thing Stakes, Roman Treasure and American Lady.
It’s a solid field entered for the Test Stakes and should
present the contenders with a strong challenge. If Turbulent Descent gets back
to her best form she’s got the race in the bag, but Her Smile and Pomeroy’s
Pistol could be right there to pick up the pieces if she falters.