The big race of the weekend on the east coast is the G1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, which is the stage for the latest encounter between the two G1-winning fillies Nest and Secret Oath, who are one-each in their own private rivalry. They will face stiff opposition from the improving G2 winner Gerrymander in what is sure to be a fascinating contest.
Grade 1, $600,000, 1m 2f, 3yo fillies
Best of three, then, as two star fillies meet for the third time this year in the Alabama at Saratoga on Saturday, with the score tied at one apiece.
Nest (1-2) and Secret Oath (4-1) first met in the G1 Kentucky Oaks over a mile-eighth at Churchill Downs in May, with Secret Oath getting first run on her rival and drawing off to beat her by two lengths, with Nostalgic (12-1) a distant tenth and Nest’s barnmate Goddess Of Fire (20-1), who has never won anything better than a maiden, 11th.
The return match came here last month in the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks over a mile-eighth, with a very different result. Nest raced much closer to the pace in the early going and took the lead before halfway, and then cleared right away through the stretch to beat Secret Oath by 12 and a quarter lengths, with Nostalgic a further three lengths back in third and quite obviously no match for the big two.
In between times these two fillies had taken on males, with Secret Oath a slightly disappointing fourth behind Early Voting in the G1 Preakness at Pimlico Racetrack and Nest a much more sprightly runner-up to Mo Donegal in the G1 Belmont over a mile and a half.
Nest’s proven stamina gives her a further edge over Secret Oath, who has run two lacklustre races in succession and may be feeling the effects of a tough winter/spring campaign, and Nest can come out best of the pair again this time.
The other major player here is Gerrymander (7-2), whose trainer Chad Brown has plenty of other things to worry about but will fancy his chances of upsetting the big two here, as his filly – winner of a maiden at the Spa last year – should be at her peak after just two runs this year.
She was impressive in the G2 Mother Goose over a mile-sixteenth at Belmont Park last time, coming three lengths clear of the fair benchmarks Shahama and Juju’s Map, and although the extra distance today is an unknown quantity she stayed a mile well enough as a juvenile – beating none other than Nest in a stakes at Belmont in November – so has a good chance of seeing it out.
She’s Keen (30-1), who broke her maiden at the fifth attempt here over a mile-eighth last month, and Skratch Kat (30-1), winner of a mile-sixteenth allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs last time, look totally outclassed.
Alabama Stakes Betting Prediction
Often a ‘two-horse race’ can be upset by a third contender, so the fresh G2 winner GERRYMANDER is the choice to play that role today.
|HORSE||JOCKEY||ALABAMA STAKES ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS|
|Skratch Kat||Julien R. Leparoux||+3000|
|Goddess of Fire||John R. Velazquez||+2000|
|Nest||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||-200|
|Nostalgic||Jose L. Ortiz||+1200|
|She’s Keen||Jose Lezcano||+3000|
|Secret Oath||Luis Saez||+400|
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