Alabama Stakes 2019: Odds and analysis for Saturday's race

August 14, 2019 03:53pm
Alabama Stakes 2019: Odds and analysis for Saturday's race
Photo: Elsa Lorieul/NYRA

Nine 3-year-old fillies were entered in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga in what is likely to be their only start going a mile and a quarter.

Not only is the 10-furlong distance missing from the past performances of these contenders, but so is a Grade 1 victory. Five fillies have won a graded stakes already, and a few of them did race in the Kentucky Oaks and/or the Coaching Club American Oaks earlier this season.

The Alabama is scheduled as Race 10 out of 11 with post time scheduled for 5:59 pm ET. Here is an early analysis of the field with projected morning line odds from the Horse Racing Nation.

Dunbar Road [ML 8-5 – Quality Road – C. Brown/J. Ortiz – 4: 3-1-0 - $257,900] Part of the powerful duo of Chad Brown 3-year-old fillies with division leader Guarana, Dunbar Road lived up to the talent that she flashed last spring when she won the Mother Goose (G2) last time at Belmont Park. After that victory, Brown was convinced that the daughter of Quality Road was the one that will handle the classic distance. She was a big favorite in her all four of her starts and will be once again as Brown seeks his first victory in the Alabama. The top choice.

Lady Apple [ML 9-2 – Curlin – S. Asmussen/R. Santana Jr. – 9: 4-2-1 - $685,950] This Steve Asmussen trainee has a pair of Grade 3 victories on her resume, with the most recent victory coming last month in the Iowa Oaks and the other in the Fantasy at Oaklawn Park back in April. In between those starts, the daughter of Curlin ran third in the Kentucky Oaks. Since breaking her maiden in February in Arkansas, she has won four of five starts, along the way showing versatility while racing right on the lead or by sitting a stalking trip. Lady Apple has been training in Saratoga, where Asmussen’s barn is red-hot. Major contender.

Afleet Destiny [ML 30-1 – Hard Spun – U. St. Lewis/A. Salgado – 12: 1-2-2 - $150,740] Since this filly broke her maiden in November at Parx Racing, trainer Uriah St. Lewis, of Discreet Lover fame, has sought her next victory in stakes company. The quest began nicely with a second in the Demoiselle (G2) last December, but as of late Afleet Destiny hasn't made it in the money. Toss.

Champagne Anyone [ML 10-1 – Street Sense – I. Wilkes/C. Landeros – 9: 3-0-3 - $354,825] This Ian Wilkes trainee made a splash on the road to the Kentucky Oaks when she won the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), defeating, at the time, a relatively unknown Dunbar Road. Preparing for the first Friday in May, Champagne Anyone was the filly proved a morning standout who didn’t get the best of trips at Churchill Downs. The result was a fourth-place finish beaten some seven lengths. Given two months between starts, she came back in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga with an almost identical performance. At this point, it is hard to know what to expect from her. Since she was 8-1 in her last two races, and those odds would be a minimum to get the right value Saturday. Toss.

Street Band [ML 5-1 – Istan – J. L. Jones/S. Doyle – 10: 4-0-2 - $434,425] Trainer Larry Jones has always been adept with the fillies, and he got Street Band back to the winner’s circle in the Indiana Oaks (G3) last month, which gave her a second graded stakes victory to go with the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). A troubled seventh in the Kentucky Oaks was sandwiched between those two big wins. The daughter of Istan prefers to race from a stalking position. Use underneath.

Ulele [ML 10-1 – Candy Ride – B. Cox/J. Rosario – 7: 2-3-2 - $214,200] Although she has yet to win a stakes race, her two tries resulted in runner-ups in the the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Iowa Oaks. Both were just a half-length behind the top spot. The Brad Cox runner is definitely one who wants to race on or just behind the early pace. She has trained smartly at Churchill Downs since the Iowa Oaks and wwill come with higher odds than most of the field as she tries to stretch her speed. Live longshot.

Point of Honor [ML 3-1 – Curlin – G. Weaver/J. Castellano – 5: 3-1-0 - $346,375] Her biggest win came in the Black-Eyed Susan on Preakness weekend when she rallied from off the pace. The only time she missed the board came in the Gulfstream Park Oaks when fourth behind Champagne Anyone and Dunbar Road. Point of Honor was last seen running second, just a length behind unbeaten Guarana, in the CCA Oaks. Trainer George Weaver is not having his usual strong meeting at the Spa, but the daughter of Curlin sure seems like one who wants to go this far. Board hitter.

8) Off Topic
[ML 20-1 – Street Sense – T. Pletcher/M. Franco – 8: 1-2-3 - $173,400] Although the daughter of Street Sense has just a maiden victory to her credit, she competed in graded stakes in her three most-recent starts and has a pair of third-place finishes to her credit. Off Topic was third in the CCA Oaks behind Guarana and Point of Honor at odds of 31-1. She looks like a filly that should handle the distance and prefers to run from off the pace. Toss.

9) Kelsey’s Cross
[ML 30-1 – Anthony’s Cross – P. Biancone/R. Maragh – 5: 1-1-3 - $145,100] Up to this point, Kelsey’s Cross has raced only on the turf with only a maiden claiming win to show. She does show three third-place finishes in a row in stakes races on the grass going long. However, a Grade 1 is a very tough place to trust a filly making her main track debut. Toss.

: It's tough to go against the favorite, Dunbar Road, in the Alabama. Since she and her stablemate Guarana emerged in this division, Chad Brown did not hesitate to say that Dunbar Road was the one who would handle the mile and a quarter distance. Brown’s record at Saratoga and in big races makes her a confident top choice.

The big question is, who will finish second from a well-matched group that includes Lady Apple, Street Band and Point of Honor?

Lady Apple and Street Band should be stalking along with the favorite, while Point of Honor will make more of a late run. That type of trip could benefit her in a final furlong that will be new to this field.


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