There be will questions to answer for two of the key contenders in a field of 10 3-year-old New York-bred fillies entered to go a mile on the turf in the $100,000 Statue of Liberty Division of the New York Stallion Series, the main event on Thursday’s nine-race card at Saratoga. The race also drew a pair of main-track-only entrants, which could be significant with rain in the forecast during the week.
For trainer Rick Violette, Byself’s ability to handle the turf is the chief concern when the lightly raced, once-beaten filly tries grass for the first time in the Statue of Liberty. Byself opened her career with a pair of impressive sprint wins on the main track before finishing second behind the red-hot and vastly more experienced Hay Field stretching to seven furlongs while competing over a sloppy track last month at Belmont Park.
“Her action on the dirt is just okay – she runs fast enough, but actually pounds the ground really hard,” Violette said. “I breezed her on the grass for the first time, and she went well over it, and she is out of a Polish Numbers mare, so there are a lot of indications she might be a turf horse. Being by Noble Causeway, I don’t think the added distance should be a problem. From the inside post, she should be able to get good position naturally, and if she does, then we’ll find out if she’s a grass horse or not.”
Violette’s colleague David Donk will be hoping to find out if his Kreesie wants to go two turns. The stretch-running daughter of Cosmonaut won the opening leg of the series going seven furlongs June 24 at Belmont with a steady rally that carried her from near the back of the field to a half-length victory over Goodbye Brockley. Kreesie turned back to six furlongs against open company in her most recent start, finishing a late-running fifth as the 7-5 favorite.
“It was a little bit of an experiment backing her up to six furlongs last time, and I think it was just too short for her,” Donk said. “She finished well, but just kind of ran out of ground. Her pedigree says she’ll probably want to go two turns, and if she’s going to have a bit of a future with statebreds, she’s going to need to run a little longer. This race will be a bit of a learning curve for us.”
The Statue of Liberty will bring back the first four finishers from the first leg of the series, with Goodbye Brockley, Mentality, and Wegetsdamunnys all back to take another shot at Kreesie. All three of those fillies have the advantage of having had at least one start around two turns coming into the rematch, and Goodbye Brockley owns a win at 1 1/16 miles against older, open company May 28 at Belmont.
Finger Lakes invader Crashing Connie should assure an honest pace while shipping in off a pair of sharp dirt stakes tries over her home grounds. Crashing Connie was a game winner of the six-furlong Niagara on June 18 before finishing a tiring second in the 1 1/16-mile New York Oaks five weeks later.
Miss Jen, who defeated open, $32,000 claiming competition at a mile in her last start, Codrington, recent maiden winner Starlite Mission, and the longshot Barrel of Destiny complete the field. Aunt Babe and My Roxy Girl are the two main-track-only entrants.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
Visit DRF.com for additional news, notes, wagering information, and more.