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Breeders' Cup 2017

Turbulent Descent Strong 6-5 Test Favorite

If a reputation can be enhanced in defeat, Turbulent Descent certainly polished her credentials with a strong second-place finish behind It’s Tricky in the Grade 1 TVG Acorn on June 11 at Belmont Park.


The winner came back to score one of the signature performances of the year in racing, surviving an epic struggle with Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty to take the Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks. Now it is Turbulent Descent’s turn to step forward off the TVG Acorn, and she cuts back as the 6-5 favorite to perhaps her favorite distance, seven furlongs, to face eight other 3-year-old fillies Saturday in the 86th running of the Grade 1, $250,000 Test at Saratoga Race Course.


The Test is co-featured on the card with the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap for 3-year-olds and up. Both races will be televised by VERSUS from 5-6 p.m. as part of NBC Sports Group’s “Summer at Saratoga” series.


Owned by Blinkers On Racing and Strauss, Turbulent Descent went into the TVG Acorn as a heavy 3-5 favorite, having won two Grade 1 races in California and crushed the field in the Grade 2 Beaumont at Keeneland.


The 10 lengths between her and third-place finisher Her Smile in the TVG Acorn showed just how much running It’s Tricky had to do to beat her. Her Smile, also entered in the Test, returned to take the Grade 1 Prioress on July 4 at Belmont Park.


“When I saw [It’s Tricky] in the paddock for the TVG Acorn, I knew we were in for a big race from her,” said Turbulent Descent’s trainer, Mike Puype. “She moved up like we were going to follow her and that other filly had something left when we got up to her. We’re going back to our optimal distance for this race… and I don’t see why we can’t come out with a good chance to win.”


Turbulent Descent, who will be ridden by regular jockey David Flores, has prepared for the Test on the Polytrack at Del Mar. Puype said the only thing she concedes to her opposition is the travel from the West Coast.


“There is no question, whenever horses go to the East Coast from the west they’re not at an advantage,” he said. “It’s taxing on a horse from a dehydration standpoint. It shows just what kind of horses they are when they go out and do something like this. The Test is very prestigious for 3-year-old fillies and we’re trying to take it down if we can.”


Turbulent Descent likes to run from off the pace, and there appears to be no shortage of speed horses signed up for the race. Black Swan Stable’s Roman Treasure (5-1) cut out very fast fractions in the Prioress after stumbling at the start and eventually faded to fifth. WinStar Farm’s Savvy Supreme (15-1) has been on the lead after a half-mile in four of her five starts and led the TVG Acorn by two lengths at one point before tiring. American Lady and Ava K. (5-1) also have speed.


“She figures to be on the pace to me,” said Roman Treasure’s trainer, Michael Hushion, who also entered New York-bred stakes winner Ava K. “I don’t know why anybody would run with her, especially at seven [furlongs].”


Her Smile (4-1), purchased by celebrity chef Bobby Flay for a run in the Kentucky Oaks, has improved each time since trainer Todd Pletcher cut her back in distance. The six-furlong Prioress was her Grade 1 breakthrough.


“We weren’t sure,” said Pletcher, who also trains Savvy Supreme. “Her pedigree indicates she was adaptable to longer races. We’ll see how the Test goes and go from there. The Test seemed like a logical move after the Prioress.”


Turbulent Descent isn’t the only filly looking for pace to run at in the Test. Graded stakes winner Pomeroy’s Pistol (8-1) came with a long drive in the Prioress before falling a half-length short of Her Smile, while multiple stakes winner Coax Liberty (12-1) closed sharply to win an overnight stakes race run at the Test distance July 15 at Belmont.


“My filly has proved she belongs in there,” said Pomeroy’s Pistol’s trainer Amy Tarrant. “She proved that in the Prioress. We just didn’t have any racing luck that day.


“She’s a stalker,” added Tarrant, who is based at Monmouth Park. “She stalks and then pours it on. She’s a homebred. I’m owner, breeder, and trainer, so she’s special. This is the best filly I’ve ever had. We’re thinking she deserves a shot up here.”


Trainer James Lawrence said Coax Liberty lost her left front shoe when winning last time out at Belmont and suggested that may have been why she was drifting out in the stretch. Jockey Eddie Castro has the mount, Coax Liberty’s sixth rider in as many starts.


“If one of these fillies has a hiccup, maybe we’ll step up,” Lawrence said.


An intriguing wild card in the Test is Bob Baffert’s American Lady (5-1), who won an entry-level allowance race in her third start last time out on June 30 at Hollywood Park. In her debut, America Lady held on to defeat Orientatious, who scored an impressive victory July 23 at Del Mar.


“She is training like a stakes filly,” Baffert said. “She’s a very talented filly.”


Completing the field is Salty Strike (12-1), who won the Grade 3 Dogwood on June 4 at Churchill Downs and then finished fourth after making the pace in the Grade 1 Mother Goose at Belmont Park.


“We’re going to shorten her back up,” said Lars Becdelamotte, assistant trainer for Ken McPeek. “She needs to sprint; that’s the bottom line.”


The field for the Grade 1, $250,000 Test:








Ava K. (NY)

J R Leparoux


M E Hushion



American Lady (KY)

M Garcia


B Baffert



Roman Treasure (KY)

R A Dominguez


M E Hushion



Coax Liberty (KY)

E Castro


J L Lawrence, II



Savvy Supreme (KY)

J Lezcano


T A Pletcher



Turbulent Descent (FL)

D R Flores


M Puype



Pomeroys Pistol (FL)

J R Velazquez


A Tarrant



Her Smile (VA)

J Castellano


T A Pletcher



Salty Strike (KY)

M R Cruz


K G McPeek





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