By Tom Quigley
$350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga
Race 10 (Saturday, July 18, 2020: 6:16 p.m.ET; 3:16 p.m./PT)
One mile and an eighth on the main track (three-year-old fillies)
The first Saturday program of the 2020 season at Saratoga features the first Grade I race of the meet, the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), for three-year-old fillies. A half dozen sophomores’ route nine panels for a chance at an illustrious Grade I victory on their resumes. Let’s take a closer look at the entrants:
#1 TONALIST’S SHAPE proved she could get two turns effectively in her last start, the Hollywood Wildcat Stakes at Gulfstream Park, winning by three lengths while traveling a mile-and-a-sixteenth. She adds blinkers for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. who clicks at 27% with that equipment change. We’ll see what she’s got going a little bit farther.
#2 ANTOINETTE gets back to dirt after a third-place finish in the Wonder Again Stakes (G3) on turf, finishing two lengths behind 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner SWEET MELANIA. Earlier in her career, she won the $100,000 Tepin Stakes at Aqueduct and finished third in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) both on dirt. Hall of Fame tandem of Bill Mott and John Velazquez team up.
#3 ALTAF lacks any sort of early speed, which puts her at the mercy of the pace. Daughter of MEDAGLIA D’ORO won in her second lifetime start last time out racing in a one turn mile at Churchill. Should enjoy the added distance but certainly won’t get a pace collapse to close into like she did last time.
#4 VELVET CRUSH makes her third start off a layoff for trainer Rodolphe Brisset. Most recently, this daughter of TAPIT won an allowance race at Churchill Downs. She has tactical speed and can stalk the pace or be on the lead. Needs to put up a career best if she has any chance at winning.
#5 CRYSTAL BALL improved in her second lifetime start when crushing a maiden special weight group at Santa Anita on June 14. If she improves even more in her third career race for trainer Bob Baffert, than she might be able to pull off a mild surprise as he isn’t sending her across the country for nothing.
#6 PARIS LIGHTS has won by open lengths in her two career races traveling two turns over fast tracks for trainer Bill Mott. She’ll figures to receive a good trip sitting right off the pace with jockey Tyler Gaffelione, who has been aboard for both victories. Definitely live.
1. #6 PARIS LIGHTS - Should get the right trip.
2. #5 CRYSTAL BALL - In Baffert We Trust.
3. #1 TONALIST’S SHAPE – Only defeated once in her seven race career.
LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY - #4 VELVET CRUSH – Daughter of Tapit.
I’ll box my top four picks in trifectas and use my top three picks in an exacta box. With $2 left over, I’ll play one dollar exactas using my longshot value play over my top two selections.
BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)
$1 Trifecta Box: #1 TONALIST’S SHAPE and #4 VELVET CRUSH and #5 CRYSTAL BALL and #6 PARIS LIGHTS ($24).
$4 Exacta Box: #1 TONALIST’S SHAPE and #5 CRYSTAL BALL and #6 PARIS
$1 Exacta: #4 VELVET CRUSH over #5 CRYSTALL BALL and #6 PARIS LIGHTS ($2).
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