STATE OF REST beat SOLDIER RISING in yesterday's Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes. The Irish winner paid $44.20 with Britain's runner up paying $12.40 to place. The international exacta tallied $189 for a dollar.
Fillies take the same trip as the boys in today's $700,000, Grade I Saratoga Oaks Invitational Stakes. Like the Derby, the Oaks includes some international flavor. Let's look at the trio of horses travelling into Saratoga from overseas.
MESSIDOR (PP: 2 ML 12-1) has the same connections as STATE OF REST with jockey John Velazquez and trainer Joseph O'Brien. MESSIDOR has primarily showcased her skills in Ireland. Last timeout, she ran at Ascot in England. Five of her eight starts were on turf and the other three on a synthetic, all-weather track. She's been out of form in 2021; finishing no better than third and no closer than 2 ¼ lengths in her four runs as a three-year-old. She might have the same jockey/trainer combo as the Saratoga Derby champ and will likely be mid-pack like STATE OF REST, but her recent form suggests this spot could be difficult.
ROCKY SKY (PP: 6 ML 3-1) tried turf for the first time in her last start, smoking the filed by 4 ¼ lengths. Her prior three starts were on Ireland's Dundalk's all-weather track. The blowout win came on a "good" surface at 33-1 odds, which means she might like the firm footing on this side of the Atlantic. She topped FRENCH FUSION and SACRED RHYME in her grass debut, neither of which are top caliber. However, horseplayers cannot overlook the US combo of jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr and trainer Chad Brown.
CREATIVE FLAIR (PP: 7 ML 7/2) has run high-quality races in her last five races. Her debut was the lone off effort. She finished third by a neck in the Prix Chloe, a Group 3 race at Chantilly in France in her last outing. She finished behind NOTICEABLE GRACE (IRE) and ROUGIR (FR). NOTICEABLE GRACE is undefeated in 2021. ROUGIR came back to finish fourth by a neck to MOTHER EARTH, who has finished no worse than third this year and against stiff competition. CREATIVE FLAIR is likely to be forwardly placed with jockey Mike Smith and trainer Charles Appleby, who is one of the top trainers in the world.
CREATIVE FLAIR is our top choice of the international invaders. She's run against the stronger competition compared to MESSIDOR and ROCKY SKY. She a neck away from a composable win in the G3 Prix Chloe. Meanwhile, the Godolphin ownership team is having a strong year, winning at 17%, including 84 stakes wins.