Come late Saturday afternoon, Monomoy Girl and Red Ruby will be tucked away in their respective stalls at Churchill Downs and Keeneland. Monomoy Girl, the clear leader of the 3-year-old filly division, is pointing to next month’s Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx Racing. Red Ruby, a multiple graded stakes winner sidelined with a splint injury, is hopefully pointing to an October return.
Yes, Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga lacks two of the stars of the 3-year-old filly division. But it doesn’t lack intrigue.
Midnight Bisou will be a clear favorite, having won four graded stakes this year including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks. Most recently, she finished second to Monomoy Girl in the Coaching Club American Oaks here July 22. But horses such as Eskimo Kisses, Talk Veueve to Me, and She’s a Julie have license to upset.
In the Alabama, all eight 3-year-old fillies will have to negotiate 1 1/4 miles, perhaps the biggest question Midnight Bisou has to answer Saturday. A wet track also could be in play, given the forecast for thunderstorms Friday night and Saturday.
“I thought her mile and an eighth in the Coaching Club was solid, considering she chased a very good filly into a moderate pace,” said Steve Asmussen, trainer of Midnight Bisou. “A mile and a quarter is unique for all. It appears the race has a lot of pace in it.”
Midnight Bisou won the Grade 2 Santa Ynez over a wet track at Santa Anita.
She’s a Julie, another from the Asmussen barn; Auspicious Babe, Figarella’s Queen, and Coach Rocks, all have speed to be forward factors if their connections opt to use it.
Ken McPeek, trainer of Eskimo Kisses, would certainly like to see pace in the race. His filly has done her best running from well off the pace.
Eskimo Kisses has had a busy 3-year-old season, winning twice and finishing second three times in seven starts. She was second to Monomoy Girl in the Ashland at Keeneland and fourth to her in the Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks.
McPeek said the Coaching Club, Eskimo Kisses’s first start in 79 days, was used as a prep for the Alabama. Now, McPeek believes Eskimo Kisses is ready to run her best race.
“She’s coming into this about as good as we can get her,” said McPeek, who has retained the services of Jose Ortiz to ride Eskimo Kisses for the first time.
Eskimo Kisses did win an allowance race at Oaklawn by 11 1/2 lengths over a sloppy track.
Talk Veuve to Me was successful in her two-turn debut, winning the Indiana Oaks by 4 3/4 lengths about as easy as one could do it. That race was at 1 1/16 miles. Trainer Rodolphe Brisset doesn’t see the 1 1/4 miles as a big issue for his daughter of Violence.
“Off of the race she showed going a mile and a sixteenth and off of her works and the way she acts, I have no problem with the mile and a quarter at all,” Brisset said. “She’s push-button – she can make the lead and bring her speed two turns, or if anybody wants to go she can rate. It doesn’t really matter, she’s versatile.”
The Alabama goes as race 9 on a 10-race program that begins at 1 p.m. and also includes the Grade 2, $300,000 Lake Placid Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on turf.
Midnight Bisou, by Midnight Lute
Last 3 Beyers: 94-94-91
◗ Most accomplished filly in the field, with four graded stakes wins including a six-length score in the Grade 2 Mother Goose in first start for Asmussen.
◗ No match for Monomoy Girl in CCA Oaks here July 22, but did finish 3 1/2 lengths clear of the field.
Eskimo Kisses, by To Honor and Serve
Last 3 Beyers: 86-90-85
◗ Was only beaten a half-length by Midnight Bisou when those two were third and fourth in the Kentucky Oaks.
In the Oaks, Eskimo Kisses got stopped along the rail for a sixteenth of a mile.
◗ McPeek believes the 10 furlongs plays into his filly’s favor.
“The further they go the better,” he said. “She’s going to have to bring her best race, but that is what it’s all about.”
Talk Veuve to Me, by Violence
Last 3 Beyers: 93-95-93
◗ Never worse than second in five starts, including a two-length loss to Monomoy Girl in the Grade 1 Acorn.
◗ Has been working very well sitting behind another horse in her last three works at Saratoga.
Coach Rocks, by Oxbow
Last 3 Beyers: 83-82-76
◗ Runner-up to Red Ruby in both the Black-Eyed Susan and Delaware Oaks in her last two starts.
◗ A solid off-the-pace victor in the Gulfstream Park Oaks.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
Visit DRF.com for additional news, notes, wagering information, and more.