The $200,000 Seeking the Ante Stakes for 2-year-old fillies carded as race two at Saratoga on Friday is one of two New York-bred juvenile races of the day, with the Funny Cide Stakes for juvenile colts.
The eighth edition of the 6 1/2-furlong event over the main track attracted a select field of six, four of whom were victorious in their last start.
It’s no surprise that Wesley Ward’s Miss Alacrity (7-5) is the morning line favorite. She’s undefeated in both starts, including a 2 3/4 length win in the Colleen Stakes over the Monmouth turf. Munnings’ daughter is a half-sister to stakes winner Jenda’s Agenda, and their dam Just Jenda is a multiple graded winner. Miss Alacrity’s first five dams all own black-type earnings, and champion Nyquist is part of this classy family.
November Rein (2-1) technically won once in two attempts; she was DQ’d from first to second in her debut at Belmont. But the Kelly Breen trainee returned a month later to dominate a full field of state-bred maidens here by 5 1/2 lengths and earned the highest late-pace Brisnet figure in the Seeking the Ante field.
Steve Asmussen drops Velvet Sister (9-2) in class after her 15 length bashing in the Schuylerville Stakes (G3). The $500,000 at the Fasig-Tipton March purchase is a half-sister to My Boy Tate, a multiple-stakes-winning sprinter who earned $584,988 in 24 starts. Velvet Sister’s speed figures are among the lowest in the field, and she’ll need to step it up to be competitive against the top pair.
Laoban's Legacy (5-2) splashed home by 7 3/4 lengths in her debut over state-bred maidens here over a sloppy track. Over the last three years at Saratoga, Jeremiah Englehart’s 2-year-olds return to win their second start and impressive 40 percent of the time. Irad Ortiz Jr. takes over for his brother, who elected to stay with November Rein.
Hideout (30-1) switched to Wayne Potts’ barn after beating maidens at Finger Lakes by 1 1/4 lengths and earning a 66 speed figure. Over the last three years, 25 percent of horses win after switching to Potts’ barn. That being said, Hideout will need a huge effort to have an impact on this group.
Succulent (30-1) is the field’s “why?” horse. Yes, she had minor excuses in both starts yet lost against state-bred maidens by a combined 31 lengths. Now she moves up against winners and has a tough task ahead.
Miss Alacrity has three drawbacks: Her speed figures aren’t the highest, she’s shipping in from Keeneland, and horses who last raced at Monmouth aren’t holding their form at Saratoga – at last count 15 of 23 runners on the main track finished out of the money.
So I’m giving the nod to November Rein. She posted a third-best pre-race work, and Jose Ortiz is winning dirt sprints this meet at a 22 percent clip.
Jose’s brother Irad will be hot on his heels with Laoban's Legacy. Her speed figure mirrors November Rein’s, and Englehart knows how to have them ready the second time out.
#3 November Rein (2-1)
#2 Laoban's Legacy (5-2)
#1 Miss Alacrity (7-5)
#6 Velvet Sister (9-2)