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Princess of Sylmar Saratoga 7/20/13

Princess Of Sylmar: the nation's leading three-year-old filly

  PICTURE: Bud Morton/ Equisport Photo  

Princess Of Sylmar looks a Saratoga standout

Preview: USA, Saturday 10.45pm BST (live on ATR)

Saratoga: Alabama Stakes (Grade 1) 1m2f, dirt, 3yo fillies

KENTUCKY OAKS winner Princess Of Sylmar (Todd Pletcher/ Javier Castellano) looks to face only one legitimate rival in a six-runner field as she bids to cement her status as the nation's leading three-year-old filly in the Alabama.

After charging down the lane to clinch a surprise victory at Churchill Downs, she came back after a minor layoff with a stunning six-length triumph in the Coaching Club American Oaks.

"She put any questions about her Kentucky Oaks victory to rest in there with a very strong performance and she's trained brilliantly since then," said Pletcher.

With a seasonal record of four out of five - and that defeat only by a head to subsequen tGrade 1 scorer Close Hatches - Princess Of Sylmar is clearly the one to beat here. What is more, her running style ought to be suited by the step up to 1m2f.

Fiftyshadesofhay (Bob Baffert/John Velazquez), who starts from the outside box, is the only other graded stakes winner in the field, having looked when scoring at lower level in the Santa Ysabel, Black-Eyed Susan and Iowa Oaks.

Darley allowance winner Carnival Court (Kiaran McLaughlin/Irad Ortiz) gets Lasix for the first time in a race Godolphin won 12 months ago with Questing.

Also on Saturday

Saratoga: Sword Dancer Invitational (Grade 1) 1m4f, turf, 3yo+ (10.12pm BST, live on ATR)

In the absence of last year's winner, the sidelined Point Of Entry, the US turf middle-distance division lacks star quality, which probably explains the size of a 13-runner field for this prestigious contest.

French-based Carlos Laffon-Parias may have found a lucrative spot for last year's Prix du Jockey Club third Nutello (Jose Lezcano), making his US debut in this $600,000 contest.

The four-year-old has only minor stakes victories at Deauville and Toulouse to his name this term, but stabelmate Chinchon came to the States with no better credentials a while ago before becoming a force at the top level.

Likely favourite is Point Of Entry's stablemate Boisterous (Shug McGaughey/John Velazquez), who finally broke his Grade 1 maiden last time in the Man o'War after multiple successes in lower-scale events.

Others worthy of mention include United Nations Stakes one-two Big Blue Kitten (Chad Brown/Joe Bravo) and Teaks North (Michelle Nevin/Luis Saez), plus Man o'War runner-up Twilight Eclipse (Tom Albertrani/Javier Castelano), who holds the world record at this distance.

Del Mar: Del Mar Oaks (Grade 1) 1m1f, turf, 3yo fillies (Sun 1.40am BST)

Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey may hold the key here as they ship a powerful pair out west for this $300,000 contest.

As usual, both represent the Ramseys' stallion Kitten's Joy, as advertised by their names. Kitten's Dumplings (Mike Maker/Mike Smith) is on a four-timer after taking the Grade 2 Lake George at Saratoga last month, while Emotional Kitten (Wesley Ward/Victor Espinoza) was beaten just a half-length in Grade 1 company last time.

Best of the west-coast mob may be Wishing Gate (Tom Proctor/Garrett Gomez), who loves the Del Mar but has to overcome an inside draw. With a maximum ten-runner field, French-trained Ighraa needs one to come out to get a run.

 
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