LETRUSKA headed to the Saratoga gates at 7/2 odds with Joel Rosaria aboard. The sun was out, and the track was fast. So was LETRUSKA. She jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in taking the 2020 Shuvee Stakes' hardware. She's gone on the become one of the best female horses on the planet since.
A field of seven will try to follow in LETRUSKA steps today in the 2021 Shuvee Stakes at Saratoga Racetrack. The race name honors another standout female horse, Shuvee, who won the 1969 Fillies Triple Crown: Belmont's Acorn Stakes, Saratoga's Alabama Stakes and the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Yesterday, longshot MARACUJA upset the previously unbeaten MALTHAAT to take the 2021 Coaching Club Crown. MARACUJA ran the race of her life at 15-1 odds.
THE PROFILE of a SARATOGA 1 1/8 MILES DIRT WINNER
Like the Coaching Club American Oaks, the Shuvee Stakes is 1 1/8 miles on Saratoga's main track. Meet to date, there have been nine races at the distance and surface with 100% of the winners categorized as early speed. Three of the nine ran wire-to-wire straight into the winners' circle. Outside posts have been better than inside and the rail is yet to score.
The profile of a Saratoga, 1 1/8 miles dirt winner appears to be middle out with early speed.
Based upon our pace analysis, long shot LIBERTY M D (PP: 3 ML 30-1) could be the fastest out of the chute. She has two races on her resume and has been within a length of the lead in both with some of the quickest early fractions. If LIBERTY M D misses a step a quartet will look to take her place pulling the string. DUNBAR ROAD (PP: 4 ML 2-1), HOROLOGIST (PP: 1 ML 8-1), CRYSTAL BALL (PP: 6 ML 4-1) and ANTOINETTE (PP: 5 ML 4-1) as they share similar early pace numbers and fractions.
ROYAL FLAG (PP: 7 ML 5/2) and CRYSTAL BALL are likely to come home the fastest in the stretch run. HOROLOGIST, ANTOINETTE and DUNBAR ROAD have solid late legs, but will need a big enough lead to hold off the hard chargers as their late pace figures are noticeably lower than the first two.
ANALYZING THE FIELD
Considering the rail horse is yet to score in nine starts, HOROLOGIST could get a difficult trip. Although she has shown early flash, HOROLOGIST has been more of a stalker recently and failed as the favorite in her last two races.
GOLD SPIRIT (PP: 2 ML 8-1) is making her first start in the USA after running her first 13 in Chile. She could pull off the upset, but normally international shippers need a race stateside before hitting their stride.
LIBERTY M D could be the pacesetter, giving the longshot a chance. However, she's taking a big step in competition and facing quality she hasn't seen before. She'll need to pump up her numbers and performance to meet the challenge.
DUNBAR ROAD has raced once at Saratoga, scoring a win on a sloppy track. Today will likely be hard and fast. She's dropping in class, running for $500,000 in her last start versus $200,000 here and has the top pedigree for the distance and surface.
ANTOINETTE has put some good, not great works in at Saratoga in preparing for this spot. As Mike Smith told The Player's Edge Podcast, pay attention to how a horse trains at a track. How they train is how they usually run is how Smith put it. With that Hall of Fame advice in mind, expect a good effort from ANTOINETTE.
CRYSTAL BALL should be well positioned early and has the late juice to hold on. She knows where the finish line is, winning four of her seven starts, including her last with the highest, last race speed figure.
ROYAL FLAG is another that knows her way to the winners' circle, visiting it for a photo shoot in four of her nine career outings. And when she doesn't win, she still collects a top three check with three seconds and two thirds in the other five starts.
PICKING A WINNER
It's a really tough call in a highly competitive Shuvee Stakes. We are going with DUNBAR ROAD over CRYSTAL BALL and ROYAL FLAG.