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Daily Racing Form: Pletcher And O’Neill Each Have Two Fillies In Schuylerville

Pletcher's Integral and Kiss the Girl and O'Neill's Comical and Shippy are four horses to watch in Thursday's Grade 3 race.

Saratoga Race Course
Saratoga Race Course. (Billy Francis LeRoux)

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Regardless of when the Saratoga meet starts, one constant of an opening-day card is Todd Pletcher will have at least one horse in the Schuylerville Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

Thursday, Pletcher has both Integral and Kiss the Girl entered in the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes at six furlongs. In 16 of the last 22 years, Pletcher has been represented in the Schuylerville, winning the race six times with five seconds and three thirds from 19 starters.

Kiss the Girl comes off a 4 1/2-length debut victory June 12 at Belmont. She was hustled out of the gate by John Velazquez, then pressed Sweet Kisses from the outside before drawing away in the final furlong. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 61.

Kiss the Girl, a daughter of Into Mischief, drew the outside post in the nine-horse field.

Pletcher’s other entrant is Integral, a daughter of Algorithms, who won her debut by 3 1/2 lengths going 4 1/2 furlongs on May 25 at Gulfstream Park. She broke extremely well out of the gate and was seemingly in hand until turning for home before jockey Edgard Zayas had go to the whip a time or two in the lane. She earned a Beyer of 67.

Luis Saez will ride Integral from post 2.

This year’s Schuylerville is somewhat unique in that there are no horses who made their last start at Churchill Downs. There are horses from five tracks who won their maidens outside of Belmont Park.

Trainer Doug O’Neill has entered two in the Schuylerville. Comical, a daughter of Into Mischief, was a six-length debut winner May 26 at Santa Anita. Shippy, a daughter of Midshipman, was a recent private purchase following a 10 3/4-length victory at on June 14 Laurel for which she earned a field-best Beyer of 87.

“With 2-year-old fillies, it’s always hard to tell how well they’re going to handle the traveling,” O’Neill wrote in an e-mail. “Both our fillies seem to have mature dispositions. I’m optimistic that six furlongs won’t be a problem for either one.”

O’Neill added that “Comical has been training steadily since her debut with this race in mind.”

Wesley Ward is 0 for 32 in graded stakes at Saratoga. He sends out Aurelia Garland off a solid five-length victory May 2 at Belmont. Ward said the filly ran better in the afternoon than she did in the morning and believes the further the better for this daughter of Constitution.

“She’s a big filly, she’ll want to go two turns,” Ward said. “The outside [post] will really help her. She got away slow when she won.”

His Glory, a debut winner at Indiana Grand for Tom Amoss; Lula’s Roadrunner, a debut winner at Parx Racing for Edward Coletti Jr.; Lady Fatima, a second-out winner on turf for Mark Casse; and Buxum Beast, a first-time starter for trainer Gary Contessa complete the field.

The New York Racing Association on Thursday fired three executives and added job titles to three others in a management shake-up that comes two weeks before the opening of the Saratoga meet.

In an internal company memo obtained by Daily Racing Form, NYRA president and CEO David O’Rourke described these moves as “an internal restructuring to the executive team that will position our organization for continued success.”

Lynn LaRocca, NYRA’s chief experience officer, Bob Hughes, chief information officer and Jim Ranton, senior vice-president and chief human resources officer, were all fired on Thursday. Replacements for those positions were not immediately identified.

LaRocca had been with NYRA since May 2014 while Hughes and Ranton each had their positions since 2015.

“We appreciate their many contributions to the company and wish them success in the future,” O’Rourke wrote in his company e-mail.

A NYRA spokesman declined to comment on internal personnel matters.

Jelena Alonso, vice-president/controller, has been promoted to the position of chief accounting officer, with broad responsibilities over all internal accounting and financial reporting functions.

Gordon Lavalette, the company’s chief financial officer since 2016, will also serve the company’s chief operating officer. He will supervise frontside operations including sales, food & beverage and parking.

Tony Allevato, president of NYRA Bets and executive producer for NYRA TV, is now the chief revenue officer as well, overseeing sponsorships and marketing.

These changes come just two weeks before the opening of the Saratoga meet on July 11. They also are the first major moves made by O’Rourke, who took over as president and CEO in January after the abrupt firing of Chris Kay.

Prior to filling that job, O’Rourke at NYRA held titles of director of financial planning, vice president of corporate development and, in 2013, he was appointed senior vice president and chief revenue officer.

This story originally appeared on DRF.com.

David Grening, Daily Racing Form
David Grening, Daily Racing Form

David Grening covers the New York Racing Association circuit of Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga plus such national events as the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup. He is a contributing author to "Champions" and joined Daily Racing Form in 1998.

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