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HRN Original Blog:
From Coast to Coast

Quartet of fillies step up in Alabama

Fiftyshadesofhay Iowa Oaks 615 X 400
Photo: Jack Coady/Coady Photography
This year’s G1 Alabama Stakes has become a case of the haves and the have-nots. In one corner, dual grade 1 winner Princess of Sylmar and multiple graded stakes winner Fiftyshadesofhay loom large. In the opposite corner, maiden winner Galloping Giraffe and Royal Delta’s sister Carnival Court seek credentials. And somewhere in the middle, Tell a Great Story and Montana Native lurk, ready to turn their overnight stakes wins into stepping stones for a graded stakes win.
 
 
Montana Native presents an interesting conundrum. The bay filly gets absolutely no help in the stamina department from sire Yes It’s True, and thus far she is the only of dam Special American’s progeny to succeed in route races. Her immediate pedigree screams sprinter, as does her Dosage index, but she does hold one very important card. Her dam Special American is by Quiet American, who as a broodmare sire is responsible for classic winners Bernardini and Saint Liam.
 
 
As for race day experience, only Fiftyshadesofhay has as many career starts (10 for both). Unlike Fifty, however, Montana Native has only recently started putting things together. It took her 5 attempts to break her maiden, and she didn’t again find the winner’s circle until her 9th career start. She won that start by 2 ½ lengths going 8.5 furlongs and then translated that score into a romping victory in the 9 furlong Broom Dance Stakes over this same course last month. I have a feeling that the best is yet to come with this filly, and if she gets an uncontested lead, she may prove difficult to run down.
 
 
Carnival Court, more famous for being Royal Delta’s sister than anything she has accomplished on the track, is the exact opposite of Montana Native. Though both fillies exhibit similar run styles, Carnival Court has stamina influences all over her pedigree, and on paper, it looks as though she could run all day long. Breeding isn’t everything, however, and none of Delta Princess’ other progeny have come close to filling Royal Delta’s big shoes. Carnival Court faces a tall task in trying to become a Grade 1 winner in only her 4th lifetime start against proven stakes winners. She adds Lasix for the first time and should be perfectly poised to strike sitting right off Montana Native if she proves good enough.
 
 
Tell A Great Story also boasts a stake win via a nose victory in the Go For Wand Stakes at Delaware Park back in June. In her last start, the G2 Delaware Oaks, she ran a very even race but lacked a closing kick and finished 3rd behind weaker competition than what she’ll face on Saturday. She posted a sharp 1.11 4/5 six furlong work at Laurel, but I don’t think that sharp work will counteract the negatives here. Her previous races were all at Delaware Park, Laurel, and Pimlico; she faces a huge step up in class, like a few of the other fillies; and this is her first race beyond 8.5 furlongs.
 
 
Rounding out the quartet is the uniquely named Galloping Giraffe. The Repole Stable filly has been installed as the morning line long shot at 20-1 and is certainly the outsider in this group. She only has one win in three career starts, a romping 8 length victory in a 1 mile maiden claiming race. Last out, she closed from last in a field of 7 to miss the win by three-quarters of a length going 9 furlongs over this course. Galloping Giraffe’s dam Fountain Square has also produced 2007 Pennsylvania Derby winner Timber Reserve. A brisk pace on the front end could give this filly a shot and justify Mike Repole’s decision to roll the dice.
 
 
Princess of Sylmar and Fiftyshadesofhay are the deserving top 2 choices based on their accomplishments, but since the 10 furlong distance is a question for all six fillies, it would be foolish to hand The Princess the win, as many are already doing. There is a reason why Saratoga is called the Graveyard of Champions, and should Princess lose, she would not be the first odds on favorite to do so. Montana Native and Galloping Giraffe, like Princess of Sylmar, have already shown an affinity for the track, and should the pace be uncontested, Princess will have her work cut out for her in trying to gun down the speed from her customary stalking position. 

 

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Older Comments about Quartet of fillies step up in Alabama...

Well, Montana Native looked good at first, but the heavy weights were just too good today. Nice tri, Jenna!
A double bug apprentice could have just as easily won this as dominant as she was, geared down and hand ridden.
Nice Tri pick, jenna.
With Tell A Great Story out, there will be very little pressure on Montana Native on the front end.
Princess of Sylmar def the one to beat...hoping Montana Native pulls an upset
I've loved Princess of Sylmar all year ... wishing her the very best in the historic Alabama!
Princess of Sylmar, Fiftyshadesofhay, and I expect Carnival Court to make some noise. Going to be a good race:)
Capper, I think the one intangible that The Princess has is tenacity. She looks to me like, if she's focused, her tenacity will pound-out 10 furlongs.
Can't assume the Princess will fire in the 10th furlong. I'm leaning toward Fiftyshadesofhay. She's in great current form, seems to get better with each race & has more tactical speed.

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis
  
 

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

 

Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation blogging as The Florida Filly. Using that moniker, she mainly covered racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. A move north to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the new From Coast to Coast blog for HRN, which is simply a revamped version of The Florida Filly. Don't let the new look and name change fool you, though. Ashley still brings to the table the same great coverage as From Coast to Coast as she did for The Florida Filly. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

 

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.