Concrete Rose looks to notch second Turf Triple series win in Friday’s Saratoga Oaks

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing’s three-time graded stakes winner Concrete Rose will look to capture the first two legs of NYRA’s first-year Turf Tiara series as part of a talented six-horse field of 3-year-old fillies competing in the inaugural running of the $750,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational on Friday at Saratoga Race Course.

The Turf Triple, featuring the Turf Trinity for 3-year-old males and the Turf Tiara for sophomore fillies, kicked off with the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational, which Concrete Rose won in surging 2 ¾-lengths clear of Just Wonderful at 1 ¼ miles on July 6. That marked the third consecutive win for the Rusty Arnold trainee, who has earned a trip to the winner’s circle in five of her six career starts.

The Twirling Candy filly won her debut last August in a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint at the Spa and followed with a three-length win in the Grade 2 Jessamine in October at Keeneland. She capped her 2-year-old year with her only off-the-board finish, running eighth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November at Churchill. After a four-month freshening, Concrete Rose has not been beaten, taking the Grade 3 Florida Oaks in March at Tampa and the Grade 3 Edgewood in May at Churchill, both at 1 1/16 miles, before stretching out in distance to win the Belmont Oaks on firm turf.

A contender for divisional honors, Concrete Rose will be running at 1 3/8 miles for the first time in the middle jewel of the Turf Triple. The series’ conclusion will take place with the $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational on Sept. 7 at Belmont.

“Right now, she is [the best 3-year-old turf filly in the country], but we’re halfway through the year and hope we continue on,” Arnold said. “She won at five-and-a-half furlongs, a mile-and-a-quarter and in the middle, so it’s not an issue. I think the mile and three sixteenths is well within her ability.”

Jockey Julien Leparoux, aboard for all three wins this year, will have the return call from post 5.

Saratoga leading trainer Chad Brown will saddle Olendon, who made her North American debut in the Belmont Oaks, finishing eighth. Prior to that, the French-bred Le Havre filly won two races with a runner-up effort in six starts in her native country.

Owned by Wonder Stables, Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, Chris Mara and Robert Masiello, Olendon was second in the Group 1 Prix Saint Alary in May at Longchamp before arriving to the United States.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. will pick up the mount from post 1.

Albert Frassetto’s Her Royal Highness will be taking a step up in class following her best stakes effort, running second to Valiance in the Open Mind at 1 1/16 miles on June 30 at Monmouth Park.

After making her first four starts on the main track, trainer Graham Motion moved her to the grass in March, where she ran seventh in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks. After finishing out of the money in both the Memories of Silver [fifth] in April at Aqueduct and the Boiling Springs [fourth] in May at Monmouth, Her Royal Highness earned a career-best 82 Beyer Speed Figure in the Open Mind.

“She’s been a little unlucky. She had a little bit of trouble two starts back at Monmouth. She probably should have hit the board in that race,” Motion said about the Boling Springs. “She was running very well at the end last time. I think she handled the dirt, but she’s risen to another level on the grass.”

After making her last four starts at 1 1/16 miles, she will be stretching out to the Saratoga Oaks distance for the first time. She will arrive at the Spa from her training base in Fair Hill, Maryland.

“She’s doing great and I plan to breeze her before shipping her up to Saratoga on Tuesday,” Motion said. “I always thought [about stretching her out]. We’ll find out, but it’s always been on mind. She can be a bit of a tough filly to be around, but I think she’ll handle it.”

Joel Rosario will pick up the mount, breaking from post 6.

The Saratoga Oaks will feature a pair of European shippers for trainer Aidan O’Brien, with Coral Beach returning to the U.S. for a second time after running seventh in the Belmont Oaks. The Irish-bred filly has won twice in 18 career starts, including the Grade 3 Killavullan in Dublin’s Leopardstown in her home country last October.

Jockey Wayne Lordan will make the cross-Atlantic trip, drawing post 3.

O’Brien will also send over Happen, who raced three times as a juvenile, breaking her maiden at third asking in October at Leopardstown. Following a six-month break, she started her sophomore year back at Leopardstown with a runner-up finish in the Group 3 Priory Belle in April before winning the seven-furlong Group 3 Coolmore Gleneagles Irish EBF Athasi over good-to-yielding turf on May 6.

One month later, she stepped up in class, finishing sixth in the Group 1 Coronation at Royal Ascot on June 21. She will now make first North American start, having accomplished international jockey Ryan Moore in the irons from post 2.

Kelsey’s Cross, owned by Sanford Bacon and Patrick Biancone, her trainer, has finished in the money in each of her four starts. Bred in Florida by T. Wynn and Mary Jolley, Kelsey’s Cross did not race until April, when she ran second in her debut on April 21 at Gulfstream before breaking her maiden at second asking on May 19 over the same track.

Stepping up in class, she ran third in both the Grade 3 Wonder Again and the one-mile Martha Washington on July 6 at Gulfstream.

“She shows up and she’s improving. We gave her plenty of time before we started to run her. Now, she has great form,” Biancone said.

Florent Geroux has the assignment from post 4.

Carded as Race 9 with a 5:51 p.m. post time, the Saratoga Oaks is one of three stakes on the 10-race card that also includes the $100,000 Alydar and the Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame. The first post time is set for 1 p.m.


SARATOGA SPRINGS — G M B Racing’s Tom’s d’Etat leads a talented field of nine for Friday’s $100,000 Alydar, a nine-furlong test for 4-year-olds and up on the main track, to kick off the Fasig-Tipton Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Al Stall, Jr., the 6-year-old Smart Strike horse boasts a record of 6-2-1 from 12 starts, including two sparkling performances at 1 1/8 miles at the Spa.

Tom’s d’Etat graduated on the Saratoga main in 2016 by four lengths, and in 2017 romped to a nine-length score in an optional-claiming tilt that netted a career-best 106 Beyer Speed Figure.

Tom’s d’Etat won his stakes debut in December, taking the Tenacious at the Fair Grounds by 3 ½ lengths, ahead of a trio of graded stakes efforts, finishing off-the-board at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup; second to McKinzie in the Grade 2 Alysheba at Churchill Downs; and third, last out, in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster again at Churchill.

Stall, Jr. said Tom’s d’Etat has trained forwardly out of his most recent outing, which earned a 102 Beyer.

“He’s continued to train well coming out of the Stephen Foster,” said Stall. “I’m looking forward to running him back here at Saratoga where he’s had previous success breaking his maiden and also winning an allowance race.”

Although Tom’s d’Etat was under consideration for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Whitney, Stall, Jr. said he wanted to find an easier spot for the ultra-consistent bay.

“We considered running in the Whitney, but I wanted to give him some class relief and wanted to give us a good chance at winning a race before deciding where we’ll point him next. He’s doing great and I think he really relishes it up here,” said Stall, Jr.

Joel Rosario has the call from post 2.

Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle a trio of formidable foes in American Tattoo, Wooderson and You’re to Blame.

Calumet Farm and Roberto Antonio Vignati’s American Tattoo, a 4-year-old Argentinian-bred son of Not For Sale, won the Group 1 Gran Premio Polla de Potrillos in September in his native country.

Following a troubled North American debut at Churchill Downs in May, American Tattoo persevered with a prominent effort to win a 1 1/16-mile optional-claiming route at Belmont by 1 ¼-lengths that garnered an 88 Beyer.

Luis Saez, who has won five stakes at Saratoga this meet including the Grade 2 Bowling Green with Channel Cat on Saturday for Pletcher, will pilot American Tattoo from post 5.

Let’s Go Stable’s Wooderson, a 4-year-old son of Awesome Again, launched his 2019 campaign in good form, defeating winners at Keeneland and Monmouth. Last out, in the Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont, Wooderson failed to threaten after stalking the early pace.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez retains the mount from the inside post.

You’re to Blame, a six-time winner for Bortolazzo Stable, won his seasonal debut in an optional-claiming tilt and nearly pulled off a remarkable recovery next out in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special. After being squeezed at the start of the 10-furlong test, You’re to Blame rallied from 10th to finish second, defeated a neck by Tenfold.

Last out, the graded stakes-winning son of Distorted Humor finished fifth, defeated a length, in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational.

You’re to Blame will emerge from post 9 under Jose Ortiz.

Rounding out the field are Tour de Force [Javier Castellano, post 3], Golden Brown [Jose Lezcano, post 4], Carlino [Manny Franco, post 6], Backyard Heaven [Irad Ortiz, Jr. post 7] and Candygram [Junior Alvarado, post 8].

The Alydar is slated as Race 8 on Friday’s 10-race card, which also features the Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in Race 7 and the second leg of the Turf Tiara, the $750,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational presented by Encore Boston Harbor, in Race 9.

National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame

SARATOGA SPRINGS — John Oxley’s graded stakes-winner Moon Colony will look to capitalize on a distance cutback in Friday’s Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame for 3-year-olds at one mile over the inner turf at Saratoga Race Course.

The Mark Casse-trained bay Uncle Mo colt set the pace last out in the Grade 1 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational, where he was pressed up front by Blenheim Palace before fading to ninth. That start came after winning his graded stakes debut in the Grade 2 Penn Mile on June 1 at Penn National, where he registered a career-best 90 Beyer Speed Figure.

“I think the cut back to a mile will be good for him. Unfortunately, in his last start, he got hooked up with the Aidan O’Brien horse that was next to him yelling and screaming,” Casse said. “That hurt his chances last time but he’s already well proven at a mile, so I think that the Hall of Fame suits him quite nicely.”

As the eight-horse field’s only graded stakes winner on grass, Moon Colony brags the highest bankroll with $370,635 in lifetime earnings.

Bred in Kentucky by St. Elias Stables, Moon Colony was purchased by Oxley for $400,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2017. He is out of the two-time Grade 1-placed Carson City broodmare Promenade Girl, who produced three-time Grade 1-winner Cavorting.

Jockey Julien Leparoux retains the mount aboard Moon Colony, who breaks from post 8.

Calumet Farm’s English Bee also will cut back in distance and take a drop in class from the Belmont Derby, while seeking his second stakes victory for trainer Graham Motion. The Kentucky homebred chestnut son of English Channel won the James W. Murphy at Pimlico two starts back.

“I’m pretty happy with him. I think perhaps he just didn’t really want to go that far in the Belmont Derby,” Motion said. “I think shortening him back up to a mile will help him.”

English Bee will leave from post 3 under Hall of Famer and two-time Saratoga leading rider Javier Castellano.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will seek a seventh win in the Hall of Fame when he saddles multiple graded stakes-placed Casa Creed, who breaks from post 5 under Junior Alvarado. The Jimmy Creed chestnut began his career on the main track, where he graduated at second asking over the main track at Saratoga over eventual Grade 1-placed Social Paranoia. His last victory took place in his turf debut, where he sat off a leisurely pace and went on to finish a neck ahead of eventual Grade 1-winner Henley’s Joy.

Amerman Racing’s homebred Award Winner, a half-brother to four-time Grade 1-winner Oscar Performance, will make his second start against stakes company when breaking from post 4 for trainer Brian Lynch.

The bay son of Ghostzapper was second beaten a neck as the lukewarm favorite in the Grade 3 Kent at Delaware Park last time out. He began his career on the main track, where he was a second-out graduate over a sloppy main track at Gulfstream Park by 4 1/2 lengths in December.

Award Winner made his turf debut in the spring at Keeneland, where he was a close second behind eventual graded stakes winner Demarchelier. He subsequently defeated winners over the turf at Churchill Downs, recording an 83 Beyer.

Award Winner will be reunited with two-time Saratoga leading rider Jose Ortiz, who piloted the colt in three of his seven career starts, including his maiden win.

Completing the field are Sombeyay [post 1, Luis Saez], Swamp Rat [post 2, Dylan Davis], Limonite [post 6, Ricardo Santana, Jr.] and Global Access [post 7, John Velazquez].

The Hall of Fame is slated as Race 7 on Friday’s 10-race card, which also features the $100,000 Alydar in Race 8, and the second leg of the Turf Tiara, the $750,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational presented by Encore Boston Harbor, in Race 9.

By Paul Wager

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