It’s Tricky wore down Plum Pretty in an exhilarating stretch battle on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course to take the 95th renewal of the Grade 1, $250,000 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
Trying 1 1/8 miles for the second in her career, It’s Tricky tugged at jockey Eddie Castro as she raced outside horses in second, shadowing pacesetter and Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty through fractions of 23.88 and 47.55. The top two began to sneak away from their opponents on the far turn, and they moved in tandem until It’s Tricky gained the upper hand with a sixteenth to travel en route to a three-quarter length triumph.
“Around the three-eighths, I knew [Martin Garcia aboard Plum Pretty] had a lot of horse, too,” said Castro. “I had to put pressure and ride her really hard. When that filly came past her, she changed leads, and when I hit her left again she swung back again, she fought again.”
It’s Tricky completed the distance in 1:49.15 and returned $10.60 for a $2 win wager in the Saturday crowd of 22,091.
It was the second straight Grade 1 victory for It’s Tricky, who entered Saturday’s race off an upset in the Grade 1 TVG Acorn on June 11 at Belmont Park. Although that race was a one-turn mile, It’s Tricky’s breeding and pair of victories traveling one mile, 70 yards this winter at Aqueduct Racetrack gave trainer Kiaran McLaughlin confidence she’d handle the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks distance.
“This is her third time around two turns that she’s won,” said McLaughlin. “We always thought that by Mineshaft, the distance should be no problem.”
It’s Tricky is now 4-0-0 from 5 starts, with her sole defeat being a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks in April. The $150,000 winner’s share of the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks purse lifted her earnings to $438,000.
McLaughlin said It’s Tricky lives up to her name, but that her misbehavior Saturday morning was a good omen.
“She’s tricky,” said McLaughlin. “It took us a long time to catch her in the stall this morning to put her halter on. But that’s a good thing. You want to see that, because in Florida, she did everything right. We want her to be tricky. And she was tricky this morning. She won, she didn’t do anything wrong in the paddock or in the race, and Eddie rode a great race.”
It’s Tricky, bred in Kentucky by Stonerside Stable, began her career racing for Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Darley Stable but carried the colors of Al Maktoum family’s Godolphin Racing for the first time in the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks.
“Next, probably the [TVG] Alabama [Grade 1, 1 ¼-miles, August 20 at Saratoga] but we’ll find out from the Godolphin people,” said McLaughlin.
Royal Delta finished 7 ¼ lengths behind the winner in third, and she was followed home by Buster’s Ready and Joyful Victory.