Stopchargingmaria will attempt to sweep Saratoga Race Course's Grade 1 route races for
3-year-old fillies when she heads a group of nine runners entered in the
134th running of the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama on Saturday.
Photo: NYRA / Adam Mooshian
by Todd Pletcher for Mike Repole, Stopchargingmaria carries a two-race
winning streak into the 1 ¼-mile Alabama. After making up a seven-length
deficit to win the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan in May at Pimlico,
Stopchargingmaria pressed the pace and drew off in the stretch to take
the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks by five lengths on July 20 at
Saratoga. Both the Black-Eyed Susan and Coaching Club American Oaks were
contested at 1 1/8 miles.
will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Questing (2012) and Princess
of Sylmar (2013) and become the third straight filly to win both the
Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama. Four of the past six
Alabama winners (Proud Spell, 2008; Blind Luck, 2010; Royal Delta, 2011;
Questing, 2012) were later named Champion Three-Year-Old Filly.
2, Stopchargingmaria debuted a 5 ½-length winner and was second to
Sweet Reason in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga. Following a
third-place finish in the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont, she won the Grade
3 Tempted and Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct to conclude her juvenile
daughter of King's Bishop winner Tale of the Cat was fifth in the Grade
2 Davona Dale in February at Gulfstream Park and fourth in the Grade 3
Fantasy in April at Oaklawn Park before she regained winning form in the
think the [Coaching Club American Oaks] was her best performance to
date," said Pletcher. "She seemed be training well leading into that,
and we've seen more of the same. We're pleased with the way she ran and
with the way she has come out of it. Everything has gone according to
Like her eight opponents, Stopchargingmaria will be trying 1 ¼ miles for the first time on Saturday.
has two mile-and-an-eighth races under her belt [in her two most recent
starts], and has three wins at a mile and an eighth [in her career], so
you just hope she can get a mile and a quarter," said Pletcher. "With
the indications we've been seeing, we're optimistic she can."
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride Stopchargingmaria from post position 8.
also will be represented by Got Lucky, who was second to
Stopchargingmaria in the Demoiselle as a maiden. In her three other
graded stakes attempts, Got Lucky was a distant second in both the Grade
3 Rachel Alexandra in February at the Fair Grounds and Grade 2 Gazelle
in April at Aqueduct before reporting home seventh in the Grade 1
Kentucky Oaks in May at Churchill Downs. Most recently, she won an
entry-level allowance by a neck on July 23 at the Spa.
been pointing for this since her allowance win," said Pletcher. "She's
by A.P. Indy, and we've always felt that more distance would be good for
her. We hope that proves to be true."
Got Lucky, who drew post 5, will be ridden by Jose Ortiz for the first time.
of Stopchargingmaria's previous opponents - Unbridled Forever, Fortune
Pearl, Miss Besilu, and America - will attempt to turn the tables in the
Forever, a Charles Fipke homebred, won the Silverbulletday in January
at the Fair Grounds and subsequently was third in the Grade 2 Fair
Grounds Oaks in March, Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, and Grade 1 TVG Acorn in
June at Belmont before her runner-up performance in the Coaching Club
came out of the race great and I am pleased with her," trainer Dallas
Stewart said of Unbridled Forever. "She has gained weight and is doing
really well. The added distance should help her."
Rosie Napravnik takes over aboard Unbridled Forever, who drew post 1.
Meahjohn's Fortune Pearl raced evenly when third in the Black-Eyed
Susan before returning to take the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks by two lengths
on July 5 at Delaware Park.
idea was that we'd bring her [to Saratoga] at the beginning of the meet
so she could work up here," trainer H. Graham Motion said of Fortune
Pearl. "This has been the race we have been pointing for. We'll see if
she can step up, but I do think she'll be able to handle the distance.
She's by Mineshaft and seems like a filly who will handle a mile and a
quarter, which, hopefully, some of the other fillies may not."
Trevor McCarthy will make the trek north from Delaware Park to ride Fortune Pearl. The duo will leave from post 6.
their first stakes wins are Miss Besilu and America, who both hail from
the barn of Hall of Famer Bill Mott. They were third and fourth,
respectively, in the Coaching Club American Oaks. Mott also will send
out Size, who successfully stretched out in distance when she won the
Grade 3 Iowa Oaks by 1 ¼ lengths on June 28 at Prairie Meadows.
field also includes Joint Return, a three-time stakes winner who was
second in the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks; and Catch My Drift, a 4 ¼-length
winner of an entry-level optional claimer on July 19 at Monmouth Park.