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Devil May Care Strong Choice at Saratoga

A full field of eight will line up for Saturday’s 94th running of the Grade 1, $250,000 Betfair TVG Coaching Club American Oaks as the race takes its new place on the just-expanded 40-day calendar at Saratoga Race Course.

 

Heading the group is Glencrest Farm’s dual Grade 1 winner Devil May Care, who most recently prevailed by 1 ¼ lengths in the Mother Goose at Belmont Park on June 26. After an impressive score in the Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream Park in March, trainer Todd Pletcher opted to run the daughter of Malibu Moon against colts in the Kentucky Derby, in which she finished 10th. Given time after the Derby to prepare for the Mother Goose, she turned in a sharp effort for her second career Grade 1 win and Pletcher is pleased with her progress since.

 

“She came out of the race very well, and has trained well since, as she always does,” said Pletcher. “We’ve kept her on our maintenance program and she’s fit, happy, and we hope ready to run another good race.”

 

After working four furlongs in 49.55 over the main track at Belmont on Sunday, Devil May Care arrived in Saratoga on Tuesday. The 6-5 morning-line favorite in the 1 1/8 mile race, she will break from post position 7 with regular jockey John Velazquez in the irons.

 

Mother Goose runner-up Connie and Michael will also return in the Betfair TVG Coaching Club. Campaigned by Brooklyn Boyz Stables, the race will be her first start for new trainer Dominick Schettino.

 

“Since the Mother Goose, she’s really started to blossom,” said Anthony Bonomo Jr., assistant to Schettino and son of Brooklyn Boyz principal Anthony Bonomo. “She’s really coming into her own and showing a lot of talent. She seems happy to be on the track doing what she’s doing, and that’s something you like to see.”

 

Trained by Ken McPeek for the Mother Goose, Connie and Michael has been stabled with Schettino since early June and remained with the trainer after her courageous effort in that race.

 

“She really showed us her heart when she fought back in the Mother Goose and we think she’s doing even better now than she was right before that race,” said Bonomo Jr. “We’re hoping she has a good race in her.”

 

Rajiv Maragh has the return call aboard the 5-1 co-second choice on the morning line, and the pair will break from post 4.

 

Brereton C. Jones’ Biofuel, third in the Mother Goose in her most recent effort, will also return in the Betfair TVG Coaching Club and breaks from post 6 with regular rider Eurico Da Silva in the saddle.


Acting Happy, co-second choice with Connie and Michael, will make her first start since winning an eventful edition of the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico Race Course on May 14 for her first graded score. The lightly raced Empire Maker filly has never finished worse than second in four lifetime starts and will get the services of Jose Lezcano as she breaks from the outside on Saturday.

 

Seeking the Title also started in the Black-Eyed Susan, but stumbled trying to avoid a fallen horse and unseated rider Kent Desormeaux on the far turn. Returning in a 12-horse renewal of the Grade 1 Betfair TVG Acorn on the Belmont Stakes undercard June 5, she finished sixth, and then bounced back three weeks later to win the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows in her most recent start.

 

“After something like the Black-Eyed Susan, sometimes they lose focus, but she really didn’t,” said Dallas Stewart, who trains the daughter of Seeking the Gold for Charles E. Fipke. “She’s trained right on and we were very happy with her race in the Iowa Oaks – she had to steady at the quarter pole and then got out and up in time. She’s been here for about ten days and had a good work over the training track (5f, 1:00.60) on Friday.”

 

Robby Albarado will ride from post 3.

 

Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas will send out lonshot Absinthe Minded, a recent allowance winner who the trainer believes is coming into her own.

 

“She won her last race pretty impressively and before that she had two seconds in a row,” Lukas said. “She had been a little immature, but she’s starting to get the idea now and coming around at the right time. Anytime they’re doing well, you can afford to take a chance.”

 

Lukas added that he favors the change in venue for the historic race, formerly run on closing weekend at Belmont Park.

 

“I like the race here,” Lukas said. “Closing weekend at Belmont, momentum was building toward Saratoga and it’s a nice feature for the second day.”

 

The race is the second jewel in the Betfair TVG Triple Tiara, which began with the Betfair TVG Acorn on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard and will conclude later this summer with the 130th running of the Betfair TVG Alabama on August 21.

 

Betfair TVG has pledged a $50,000 bonus to a charity designated by the winning owner of any horse who captures all three races in the Triple Tiara. While Acorn winner Champagne d’Oro will not run in the Coaching Club, Betfair TVG has also pledged a $30,000 charitable donation on behalf of the owner of the horse that scores the most points in the series. Betfair TVG will also donate $10,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation on behalf of The New York Racing Association, Inc.


To commemorate the race, The Coaching Club of America will display two antique coaches at Saratoga Race Course on Friday, July 23, and Saturday, July 24, one near the fountain at the Clubhouse entrance, and the other in the Grandstand Backyard area, both attended by Coaching Club members. At 12:35 p.m., before the first race on Saturday, Coaching Club president Louis G. Piancone will drive the road coach Tantivy pulled by four horses down the Saratoga stretch, followed by a parade of Coaching Club members.

 

Rounding out the field in the Betfair TVG Coaching Club are Bahama Bound, an allowance winner at Belmont on June 18 and Lisa’s Booby Trap, who is undefeated after three starts at Finger Lakes.

 

The Field for the Grade 1 Betfair TVG Coaching Club American Oaks:

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

Bahama Bound (KY)

J Castellano

121

B Tagg

8-1

2

Lisa's Booby Trap (FL)

E Castillo

121

T E Snyder

30-1

3

Seeking the Title (KY)

R Albarado

121

D Stewart

8-1

4

Connie and Michael (KY)

R Maragh

121

D A Schettino

5-1

5

Absinthe Minded (KY)

G K Gomez

121

D W Lukas

15-1

6

Biofuel (KY)

E R Da Silva

121

R Baker

6-1

7

Devil May Care (KY)

J R Velazquez

121

T A Pletcher

6-5

8

Acting Happy (KY)

J Lezcano

121

R E Dutrow, Jr.

5-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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