trainer George Weaver, there are races and then there are races. When
his fleet 3-year-old filly Lighthouse Bay won the Prioress on July 27,
it gave the former assistant to Todd Pletcher the first North American
Grade 1 win of his career.
Now, Weaver has Lighthouse Bay trained toward a race he believes stamps greatness - the 88th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies running seven furlongs on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Test has been won by a galaxy of champions, including Moccasin, Gamely,
Ta Wee, Desert Vixen, My Juliet, Lady's Secret, Safely Kept, Go for
Wand and Indian Blessing.
Weaver is keenly aware of the value and prestige of the race.
Test has always been one of my favorite races," Weaver said. "When I
was with Todd, we won it with Jersey Girl [in 1998]. It's like the Met
Mile. It's like one of those races that carry a lot of weight,
especially in the breeding shed. The Kentucky Derby is one of those
races. The Met Mile is one of those races. The Test is just a classic,
other runners are signed up to tackle Lighthouse Bay, the 4-1 third
choice on the morning line, including last year's Grade 1 Spinaway
winner So Many Ways, multiple-Grade 1-placed My Happy Face, Prioress
runner-up Wildcat Lily, and undefeated California-based morning-line
favorite Sweet Lulu, who will make her stakes debut.
race, scheduled to go off at 4:05 p.m. as the ninth on the card, kicks
off the $1 Million Guaranteed All Graded Stakes Pick 4, which includes
the Grade 2, $250,000 Ketel One Ballston Spa, the Grade 1, $500,000
Foxwoods King's Bishop and climaxes with the 144th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Travers.
a daughter of 2004 Champion Sprinter Speightstown, won the Prioress by a
half-length over Wildcat Lily at odds of 21-1. She had won two ungraded
stakes races before that, the longest being the 6 ½-furlong Jostle at
Weaver believes seven furlongs is within her scope.
thinking with her style of wanting to stalk the speed, it's going to
give her a chance to get the seven-furlong distance, and we're going to
give her a chance," Weaver said. "We won the Prioress, and it's a Grade
1, and everything's gone smoothly with her training since then. We're
real happy with her."
Lighthouse Bay seeks to stretch out, Michael Dubb's My Happy Face will
attempt to win the Test by cutting back from 1 1/8 miles, which she ran
when second to 3-year-old filly division leader Princess of Sylmar in
the Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks on July 20 at the Spa.
by Chad Brown, My Happy Face, 3-1 on the morning line, finished second
by a head to Dreaming of Julia in the one-turn Grade 1 Frizette last
year at Belmont Park and then won the Grade 3 Tempted at Aqueduct
Racetrack, both one-turn miles.
had to decide whether to take on Princess of Sylmar again in the Grade 1
Alabama at 1 ¼ miles on August 17 or await the Test.
Dubb [and I] spoke about it at length," Brown said. "We just felt that
even though her first time around two turns she ran very well in the
Coaching Club, finishing second to the top filly in the division,
ultimately trying to squeak another eighth of a mile out of her probably
wasn't going to work as well as just cutting her back to seven-eighths,
where she'll probably be coming from off the pace. We felt that was the
lesser of two evils. I'm confident she can handle the cut-back."
of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is shipping in from Del Mar for the
Test with the undefeated Sweet Lulu, 5-2 on the morning line and a
daughter of Mr. Greeley who has not been tested in three starts.
$270,000 yearling purchase at Keeneland by owner Steve Beneto, Sweet
Lulu won her first two starts on the Cushion Track surface at Betfair
Hollywood Park and then won an optional claimer July 24 by 4 ¾ lengths
in a mile race at Del Mar, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 99 while
drilling stakes winner Bella Viaggia.
The second- through fifth-place finishers from the Prioress all come back to try the Test.
Lily, 6-1, fresh off her victory in the Grade 3 Azalea at Calder Race
Course, made all the pace in the Prioress before getting caught late by
Lighthouse Bay and losing by a half-length. She is 0-for-2 at seven
Lute, 12-1, loomed boldly before flattening out in the lane, beaten 2 ¼
lengths in the Prioress. Trainer Dallas Stewart has liked the looks of
his Midnight Lute filly since then.
happy, looks awesome, trains very well," Stewart said. "She came out of
her work [four furlongs in 49.93 seconds August 17 over the Oklahoma
training track] bucking and kicking. It's a tough race. There are some
nice fillies in there. I just hope she has a good trip. She's a fighter.
She gets herself in position at the eighth pole, and she'll fight them
from there. She's that kind of horse."
Many Ways, 10-1, won the Grade 3 Schuylerville and Grade 1 Spinaway at
the Spa last year and came back this year and took the seven-furlong
Grade 3 Eight Belles on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs after two
poor season-opening starts.
by Tom Amoss for Maggi Moss, the daughter of Sightseeing subsequently
finished third in the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks and fourth in the Prioress. She
is undefeated at the Test distance.
Mom's Favorite, 20-1, winner of the Miss Preakness Stakes over
Lighthouse Bay on Preakness Day at Pimlico Race Course, enters off a
fifth-place finish in Belmont's Grade 3 Victory Ride on June 29, a race
in which she faded in the lane.
Baby J steps into the Test off a nearly two-month freshening following her three-quarter-length victory in the Victory Ride.
Patrick Reynolds put Baby J, 12-1 on the morning line, through a
six-furlong work in 1:14.50 this past Saturday and pronounced her ready
went nice and easy and galloped out good, so we're going to take a shot
at the Grade 1," Reynolds said. "She won the Victory Ride. She got
knocked sideways at the eighth pole and got up and got the job done.
When you have a horse like that, you've got a good shot."
J won the Victory Ride at odds of 10-1 after being taken back off the
pace in her prior allowance race by jockey Joel Rosario. Reynolds said
the daughter of J Be K will be allowed to flaunt her quickness in the
"She's a speedball, and she sulked a little bit," Reynolds said of the loss. "It was a mistake in judgment and planning."
Ju Eyeballs, riding a five-race win streak, including back-to-back
stakes scores at Monmouth Park, completes the field. She is 12-1 on the