ELMONT, N.Y. – Pennsylvania-bred Princess of Sylmar will make her first start since winning the Kentucky Oaks when she competes in the Grade 1, $300,000 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
The TVG Coaching Club American Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies, is the first Grade 1 of the 2013 Saratoga meet. It was carded as the 10th race and will be preceded by the Grade 3, $200,000 84 Shuvee Shuvee Handicap.
Princess of Sylmar hinted at her potential when she broke her maiden by 19 lengths at Penn National last November. Based in New York during the winter, she rattled off three straight dominating victories over Aqueduct’s inner track – an optional claimer in December, the Busanda in January, and the Busher in February – before she was second to Close Hatches in her graded stakes debut, the Grade 2 Gazelle in April on Aqueduct’s main track.
Pletcher said a lack of pace in the Gazelle compromised Princess of Sylmar, who subsequently made up a 10-length deficit when she rallied from ninth to post a 38-1 upset in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.
While Pletcher’s three other Kentucky Oaks starters (Unlimited Budget, 3rd; Dreaming of Julia, 4th; Silsita, 10th) all have competed since the May 3 race, Princess of Sylmar has been training up to the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks, with the long-range objective being Saratoga’s Grade 1 Alabama on August 17.
“[Owner] Ed Stanco said a long time ago that he would really love to win the Alabama,” said Pletcher. “After the Kentucky Oaks we looked at the schedule and felt that if we were going to run twice, this would be a similar program to what she had when she had a little bit of a break and ran in the Gazelle and the Kentucky Oaks. Hopefully, this will set her up nicely.”
Both the Kentucky Oaks and TVG Coaching Club American Oaks are contested at 1 1/8 miles.
“We have no issues with her handling the distance,” said Pletcher. “She’s a very relaxed filly who turns off easily, so we’ll let her relax in the early part of the race and hope she finishes well. Based on the way she has breezed over the track, I’d be pretty confident she handles it well.”
Javier Castellano will ride Princess of Sylmar, the 9-5 morning-line favorite, from post position 4.