US Saturday Preview: Katie to star at Saratoga

Todd Pletcher: Trainer of Kauai Katie.

Timeform's Mark Milligan takes a look at the best of Saturday's US racing...

"If Kauai Katie reproduces her best, the rest of this field will be racing for minor honours..."

Saratoga stages a couple of Grade 1 events for the females on Saturday, the feature race being the Diana Stakes (off 17:12 local time, 22:12 BST), run over a mile and an eighth on the inner turf. This promises to be a competitive event with three of the fillies sharing top billing on weight-adjusted Timeform ratings. Dayatthespa, Dream Peace, and Centre Court all have ratings of 139, followed by Stephanie's Kitten on 135.

Dayatthespa and Dream Peace form part of a Chad Brown three-pronged attack on the race, being joined by Samitar (though not all are certain to run at time of writing). These three fillies are all high class, though Samitar's form leaves her a little bit to find with her two stable-mates.

Centre Court was probably unsuited by the yielding turf when a well beaten fourth behind Stephanie's Kitten in the Just A Game Stakes at Belmont last time. The forecast firm turf should be much more to her liking this time, so expect her to come up with an improved effort.

The morning line favourite Stephanie's Kitten recorded her first G1 win when triumphing in the aforementioned Just A Game last time, though that effort still leaves her a little to find with the principles here. She's an improving filly, though, so it would be no shock if she moved forward just the few pounds needed to contend in this race.

The other Grade 1 on the Saratoga card is the Prioress Stakes (off 15:03 local time, 20:03 BST), run ove six furlongs on the main track. Kauai Katie heads our ratings on 131, giving her a bit of breathing space over Wildcat Lily on 124, and So Many Ways on 123.

Kauai Katie has had a short break since being a little disappointing when finishing third in the Acorn Stakes at Belmont (though the second horse Close Hatches has gone on to show improved form). The drop back in trip seems sure to be her favour, having recorded her top figure in races shorter than a mile. If she reproduces her best, the rest of this field will be racing for minor honours.

Wildcat Lily is shipping in from Calder with the profile of an improving filly, having recorded her top figure last time out. That form still leaves her a fair bit to find with Kauai Katie on our figures, though.

So Many Ways is second favourite on the morning line, and is another stepping back down in trip. She contested the Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows last time, when running respectably, but still some way below her top figure, which was earned in the Spinaway at Saratoga last September. Her trainer, Thomas Amoss, believes that dropping back to one-turn should suit, and perhaps that will see her make the improvement necessary to challenge Kauai Katie.

Arguably, the most intriguing Graded race on Saturday's card is the G2 Jim Dandy Stakes (off 17:45 local time, 22:45 BST), run over a mile and an eighth on the main track. This is the local prep for the G1 Travers Stakes, run towards the end of August. Here, we see the reappearance of Belmont Stakes hero Palace Malice, whose 134 is second on our ratings, the top weight-adjusted figure going to Mylute on 135, with Freedom Child on 130, Vyjack on 129, Will Take Charge on 128, and Code West on 126.

Mylute earned his top figure by virtue of a deep-closing third in the  Preakness, and should give his running again, especially if a fast pace develops up front. He's had a little break since, which can be a big plus after the rigours of back-to-back Classic races.

Palace Malice recorded his top figure in the Belmont when rebounding from a blow-out effort in the Kentucky Derby, where even Secretariat himself would have struggled to keep going off the sort of lung-bursting fractions he set that day. He proved much more tractable when winning at Big Sandy, and a similar sort of stalking trip should await today. 

Freedom Child ran his top figure when loose on the lead in the Peter Pan at Belmont, where he may also have relished the sloppy track. He's almost certain to face different conditions in this race, though, and looks sure to have company up front.

Vyjack has not really shone in his last two races, but is in the mix if returning to his best. At the time of writing, however, he may skip this race in favour of the Haskell on Sunday.

Code West is the "new face" in the line-up, having avoided the Triple Crown trail. He recorded his top figure last time out in a G3 at Churchill Downs. That effort leaves him a little short of the main contenders in  here, but he does have a progressive profile.

Recommend Bet:
Back Kauai Katie in the Prioress

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