SWITCH and TURBULENT DESCENT represent Golden State G.I racing on both coasts.
There are three G.I events and a G.II race to consider on Saturday. In my opinion, the race is for second in two of the top level races.
G.I Clement L. Hirsch - SWITCH
The John Sadler trainee, for long time client CRK Stable, is a dual G.I winner sprinting but will try to legitimize her credentials for the BC Ladies Classic with a win in the G.I Clement L. Hirsch.
In her three of her last four races around two turns, she’s been defeated by champions BLIND LUCK and ZENYATTA by ½ length each as well as HAVRE DE GRACE in the G.I Apple Blossom by just ¾ length.
The growing sentiment is that the daughter of QUIET AMERICAN is best around one turn and up to a mile. Her record is fodder for those skeptics, especially her narrow G.I Santa Margarita loss to longshot MISS MATCHED after attending a mile fraction of 1:33 4/5. However, the tactically inclined filly finds her easiest assignment routing to date. She and Joel Rosario could be tracking the Bob Baffert pair FREEDOM STAR and ELLAFITZ through tepid fractions. If so, SWITCH should put those two away by the head of the lane and hold off any late threats.
ST. TRINIANS, now a 6y.o., is the only entrant with a chance to run SWITCH down at the projected pace scenario. However, she has failed to do so on two prior occasions, most recently in the G.I Vanity when both were defeated by BLIND LUCK. Despite the kind touch of Chantal Sutherland to guide her around, I see no reason for the G.II winner to turn the tables on Saturday.
ZAZU will be chasing older females for the first time in her career without a break in the weights. If the pace unfolds as I expect, she will be trying to catch some fresh and classy distaffers including her stable mate SWITCH. She’s danced against the top 3y.o. fillies in the country and held her own, scoring a G.I win thanks to a suicidal pace in the Las Virgenes. Originally named as a possible G.I Alabama Stakes contestant, this salty G.I is a challenging audible for a filly I believe is better suited to dirt racing. Her supporters will point to the bullet 6f drill on the 30th and Garrett Gomez as reasons to believe in an upset.
Speaking of dirt racing, FREEDOM STAR was just graded stakes placed on synthetics but is now a three time stakes winner including the G.III Azeri at Oaklawn Park in 2010. Despite taking more than a year off, she extended her win streak to three since being transferred to the real stuff. Carrying high weight and Alonso Quinonez, I’m viewing this as a prep race for her third race in the cycle…maybe something like the G.I Personal Ensign at Saratoga on August 28?
G.I Test – TURBULENT DESCENT
This is the game that Mike Puype believes is her best. Undefeated up to 7 furlongs in three career starts is hard to argue with. She’s the most accomplished 3y.o. filly in the race, by far.
The daughter of CONGRATS has two G.I wins along with a pair of G.II scores. Her only two losses came at the neck of ZAZU, because she chased into a 1:08 3/5 6f fraction in the 1 mile, G.I Las Virgenes, and dual G.I winner IT’S TRICKY on a sloppy/sealed track. TURBULENT DESCENT is undefeated in two starts at the specialized distance of 7 furlongs. Favored in all seven career starts, she’ll make it eight on Saturday while scoring for the sixth time.
How good is TURBULENT DESCENT’s form? PLUM PRETTY was 4 ½ lengths back of her in the Las Virgenes and captured the Sunland Park Oaks by a RACHEL-like 25 lengths before posting a mild Kentucky Oaks upset. Her California nemisis ZAZU was 3rd in the G.I Kentucky Oaks and took the G.II Hollywood Oaks last out avenging the defeat by PLUM PRETTY. HER SMILE, 3rd beaten 10 lengths, captured the G.I Prioress last out over today’s rival POMEROY’S PISTOL. Another fellow entrant, COAX LIBERTY, was 5 ½ lengths back in 3rd at the finish of the G.II Beaumont and came back to win a stakes at Belmont Park.
David Flores, no stranger to national success, is the only jockey TURBULENT DESCENT has known. He will follow her to the ends of the earth to keep from losing the mount on the second-most talented 4y.o. filly he’s scaled. The other, a mount he gave up?
The main contender – AMERICAN LADY
You read that right. She’s no graded stakes winner. In fact, she’s never raced in a stakes race. That would make AMERICAN LADY overmatched, right?
Bob Baffert means business in the Test…you’ve been warned. He brings AMERICAN LADY for the acid test of acid tests. A debut winner on Santa Anita’s dirt main track, she found ultra-fast Richard Mandella trainee RUMOR too much in career start #2. That runner-up finish, over 8 lengths clear of 3rd, qualifies as a G.II placing in my book. RUMOR is that good sprinting. Last out, the Kaleem Shah-owned filly was easily the best of older allowance types.
The presence of the barn’s ace jockey Martin Garcia, the success of COIL in the G.I Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park last weekend, and a tweet by @midnightlute that he was in Saratoga Springs having dinner with his wife on Friday night (he tweeted his pre-race meal prior to the Haskell win) should keep AMERICAN LADY on anyone’s legitimate contender list.
HER SMILE, POMEROY’S PISTOL, and SALTY STRIKE all would have been worthy win threats without the California girls present. However, all three are too inconsistent to compete with TURBULENT DESCENT and AMERICAN LADY on Saturday.
HER SMILE is set to regress off a career-best effort in which she enjoyed an ideal pace set-up. Yes, she was blocked for a time, but she enjoyed the class relief in the G.I.
POMEROY’S PISTOL ran her best race last out, finishing 2nd behind HER SMILE while3 ½ clear of Baffert’s ALIENATION. She’ll need to improve to handle TURBULENT DESCENT, but 4th of the cycle isn’t typically when horses move up.
SALTY STRIKE bounced in the G.I Mother Goose after two successive career-best efforts at Churchill Downs, including the G.III Dogwood S. win. Her last was not flattered at all by the dismal efforts of BUSTER’S READY and JOYFUL VICOTORY in the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Enjoy the rest of the racing!