her record shows six wins and five seconds from 14 lifetime starts,
Clear Pasaj continues to be a pleasant surprise for trainer Bruce
The AnJes Farm homebred looks to extend her win streak to three on Monday in the 10th renewal of the $100,000 Union Avenue for New York-bred female sprinters at Saratoga Race Course.
fillies and mares were entered in the six-furlong Union Avenue,
including the top four finishers from the Lottsa Talc overnight stakes
at Saratoga on July 25, a seven-furlong race Clear Pasaj won in
gate-to-wire fashion by a nose over favored Willet.
doing real good," Levine said. "She came out of the race good. She's
very gritty. She's really a tough competitor, very feisty. I think it
helps her, because she's a real fighter; she really is."
4-year-old daughter of champion sprinter Smoke Glacken, Clear Pasaj
preceded the Lottsa Talc with a head victory in the seven-furlong
Dancing Renee on June 1 at Belmont Park.
shows four wins and four seconds in nine lifetime tries at the Union
Avenue distance, and is 2-for-3 at Saratoga, having broken her maiden
here in July 2012.
basically has just gotten better and better and better. She's been a
complete surprise," Levine said. "It's not that she got better in leaps
and bounds and had a breakthrough race. She broke her maiden up here and
then she didn't run good, then went to Belmont and won [an entry-level
allowance] and a [second-level allowance]. I put her in open company and
she was second, and she just kept climbing one step at a time."
Pasaj tuned up for the Union Avenue with a bullet half-mile work in
49.00 seconds on August 10, the fastest of 40 horses at the distance.
She had a similarly sharp work four days before winning the Lottsa Talc.
never really trained fast until about six weeks ago," Levine said.
"It's really a tribute to her, because she just keeps getting a little
better every time. She's really an overachiever."
Jose Ortiz will ride Clear Pasaj, co-highweight at 124 pounds and second choice on the morning line at 5-2, from post 4.
and trained by James Iselin, Willet did not make her 5-year-old debut
until June 15, running last of five in the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses Handicap
at Belmont Park. It was the second straight attempt in open company for
the Jump Start mare, who was second, beaten a neck, in the Grade 2 Go
for Wand Handicap last November at Aqueduct to end her 2012 campaign.
9 ¼-length winner of the $150,000 Iroquois Stakes at Belmont last
October, Willet has run second in three career starts at Saratoga,
including last year's Union Avenue, in which she was beaten 3 ½ lengths
by Risky Rachel.
Leaving from post 3, Joel Rosario will ride Willet, the program favorite at 8-5.
The Union Avenue would be the 23rd
career start for Miss Valentine, third by a head in the Lottsa Talc for
trainer Christophe Clement. Winner of the one-mile Princess Dixie on
July 3 at Belmont, the 5-year-old Afleet Alex mare was 6 ¼ lengths
behind Clear Pasaj in the Dancing Renee.
a great filly; she always tries," Clement said. "She has overcome me
for the last three years, so she is good. She ran great last time. The
track was a bit dead that day, but she ran a very good race. She's a fun
horse to be around."
Miss Valentine, 7-2, will carry Irad Ortiz, Jr. and co-highweight of 124 pounds from post 6.
Cod Carol was fourth, beaten 2 ½ lengths, in the Lottsa Talc, her
stakes debut. The Union Avenue will be her ninth start this year,
including optional claiming wins in July at Belmont in March at
got to test the waters," Ryerson said. "We were hoping to get
stakes-placed with the filly. She ran real well, running fourth. We'll
give her another chance at a shorter distance. She seems like she's
improved a little bit this year during the course of the year. Of
course, we need that to compete in here."
Cod Carol made five of her first six career starts on grass, including a
pair of maiden events last summer at Saratoga, and had another turf try
in May at Belmont, but Ryerson plans to keep her on the dirt.
didn't get many chances to run here on the dirt in the past," he said.
"She's had a good year. Since we got her off the turf, she seems like
she's gotten more confident and kind of improved a little bit each time.
We're hoping to get a little bit of a setup for her with some speed,
and she can get a decent piece of it."
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez gets a return call on Cape Cod Carol, 10-1, from post 1.
But Blue was a supplemental nominee to the Union Avenue for Tom Bush
after being pulled up before the wire and walked from the track after
the Lottsa Talc. Last year, the 4-year-old El Corredor filly won the
Fleet Indian Stakes and was third, beaten 2 ½ lengths by Contested, in
the Grade 1 Test.
out the Union Avenue field is Galiana, who won two 6 ½-furlong optional
claimers at Saratoga this summer for trainer Rodolfo Romero.