By Emily Shields
The July 18 card at Saratoga features a pair of stakes, including the $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) for sophomore fillies. Don’t forget that there is incredible betting action to be had every day of the meet on TVG.com.
#1 Tonalist’s Shape (9-5) puts blinkers on and drew the rail in the 1 1/8 mile race, which drew only six runners. The daughter of Tonalist won the Forward Gal (G3) and Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream Park this winter, then went off as a heavy favorite in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) and ran an uncharacteristically poor seventh behind Swiss Skydiver. The Saffie Joseph, Jr. trainee rebounded to win the Hollywood Wildcat over 1 1/16 miles on May 15, rolling away by nearly four lengths. Irad Ortiz, Jr will be aboard for her longest start yet.
#2 Antoinette (6-1) has run third in her last three starts, including the Grade 3 Wonder Again last out at Belmont Park on the grass. She was a stakes winner at Aqueduct last year for trainer Bill Mott, and is bred to appreciate this trip. John Velazquez will ride the Godolphin homebred.
#3 Altaf (5-1) is a recent maiden breaker for Chad Brown. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro retains jockey Joel Rosario after breaking her maiden going a mile at Churchill Downs May 23. She has been working well at Belmont for this, and could be any kind on the stretch out.
#4 Velvet Crush (12-1) is the longest shot in the field. The $450,000 daughter of Tapit was an allowance winner last out at Churchill and broke her maiden over seven furlongs at Gulfstream by 8 ¼ lengths. Jose Ortiz will ride the Rodolphe Brisset trainee.
#5 Crystal Ball (4-1) ships in from California for trainer Bob Baffert. The $750,000 daughter of Malibu Moon is out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Déjà Vu. She broke her maiden in her second start, winning by more than six lengths at Santa Anita over 1 1/16 miles. Javier Castellano picks up the mount.
#6 Paris Lights (2-1) is Mott’s second starter and has a huge chance to win. The Curlin daughter has won her last two starts, both at 1 1/16 miles, by open lengths. She is out of a Bernardini mare so the distance will not be an issue, and is partnered back with Tyler Gaffalione for this.
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