Alabama Stakes (Saratoga) Predictions, Betting Odds & Picks

Alabama Stakes 2020

If you're playing only to win, go with my top value pick, Spice is Nice (6/1)

Post Position and Odds – Alabama Stakes

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga!

J OrtizK McPeek
J VelazquezT Pletcher
J CastellanoB Baffert
I Ortiz Jr.B Cox
T GaffalioneK McPeek
J AlvaradoW Mott
R Santana Jr.S Asmussen


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Swiss Skydiver looks to add the first Grade 1 victory of her career to a growing list of accomplishments when she tops a field of seven entered for Saturday’s $500,000 Alabama.

It would be hard to argue that Swiss Skydiver hasn’t been the most accomplished 3-year-old filly in the nation. Only a gutsy runner-up finish behind Art Collector, while facing the males last time in the Blue Grass Stakes, stopped an impressive winning streak which saw her dominate three straight graded stakes races around the nation. Once again she will tackle a new test when she stretches out to 1 ¼ mile for the historic Alabama Stakes (G1).

Chief among her rivals will be Crystal Ball, a lightly raced filly from the barn of Bob Baffert. In her most recent effort, she traveled to Saratoga from California to run a bang-up race when just missing in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) in only her third-lifetime start.

Another filly who should get plenty of support at the windows is Spice is Nice. The lightly-raced daughter of Curlin failed in her first try against Swiss Skydiver but comes into Saturday’s big race off a very nice return win at Belmont Park.

An important race in its own right, Alabama offers qualifying points towards the September 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1) on a scale of 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers.

Best Bets for the Alabama Stakes

Here are my plays ($50 in total)

$10 Exacta box – Spice is Nice and Swiss Skydiver = $20

$5 Trifecta part wheel – Spice is Nice and Swiss Skydiver over Bonny South, Crystal Ball and Harvey’s Lil Goil over Spice is Nice and Swiss Skydiver  =$30


Spice is Nice 6/1

How to Watch the Alabama Stakes

Alabama Stakes Race Information
WhatAlabama Stakes (G1)
WhenSaturday, August 15 — 5:43 pm Eastern time
How to WatchFox Sports 1

Race Analysis

Swiss Skydiver

In her last four races, she has proven to be a strong contender for a year-end Eclipse Award, and only a big effort by one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby last time prevents her from coming into Alabama on a major winning streak. She has the speed to control this race from the outset, but if someone else wants to go fast early, she is versatile enough to sit just behind. Far more than anyone else in the race, she is proven for class, having dispatched of the likes of Speech and Venetian Harbor, as well as all 11 of the 12 males who contested Keeneland’s most important race for 3-year-olds. Trained by Kenny McPeek, the daughter of Daredevil is a deserving heavy favorite, with only the 1 ¼ mile trip of Alabama being the question. At odds-on, I will use her on top, but also take a shot to beat her, just in case she falters late at the distance.

Crystal Ball

She made a very promising transition from the maiden ranks to Grade 1 racing when narrowly losing a prolonged battle with Paris Lights last time in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). A big, strong filly, she also gives the impression of one that should be able to handle the distance of ten furlongs. Not all Grade 1 races are equal, though, and this one looks quite a bit tougher with the presence of the speedy Swiss Skydiver. Another step forward puts her in with a shot, but I am not sure she can fight off the favorite and still have enough left for some other very good fillies.

Spice is Nice

This Todd Pletcher-trainee looked like the genuine article when storming to a 12-length victory in her career debut early this year. She tried the graded stakes arena in her next two and was slightly disappointing when second in the Davona Dale (G2) and fifth behind Swiss Skydiver in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2). I think that she fell way too far behind early that day, and should get a much better stalking trip behind the speed in Alabama. Given time to mature, and with a confidence-building victory under her belt, I am expecting a big effort on Saturday.  If you are taking a shot to beat the heavily favored Swiss Skydiver, this is the filly that I like best.

Bonny South

The confirmed late runner in the field, she didn’t get enough pace pressure last time when Speech and Venetian Harbor ran slow early and fast late in the Ashland. She should find a better scenario in Alabama, as well as much more distance. The combination could turn it around for the daughter of Munnings, who was an impressive rallying winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) two starts back.  Having said that, it’s hard to get too excited about any deep closer the way the Saratoga track has been playing this summer. Still, she makes a lot of sense to rally up for a piece.

Harvey’s Lil Goil

It will be turf to dirt for this daughter of the Triple Crown-winning American Pharoah. After a disappointing no show behind Swiss Skydiver in the Fantasy, she came back to score a gritty victory in the Regret (G3) on the turf of Churchill Downs. Bred to handle the distance, she is a two-time stakes winner in her last three starts, which includes a powerful win on dirt, albeit against cheaper, in Buganda. The Fantasy may be too bad to be believed, but it is still causing pause. One of several in here who could step up with a strong race.


The lesser accomplished of two from the barn of Kenny McPeek, she stepped up in class last time and ran evenly to finish third behind Speech in the Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland. It wasn’t a bad effort by any means, but much like her lone stakes try on the turf, not quite good enough against graded stakes competition. She has solid tactical speed, and perhaps the daughter of Uncle Mo could take another step forward, but I still like others better.

Fire Coral

The well-bred daughter of Curlin looked to be a promising young filly after beginning the year with a pair of wins at Oaklawn Park. Unfortunately, in three subsequent starts against tougher competition, she failed to show much at all. While she should be a filly who can handle the ten furlongs of Alabama, her recent form justifies her status as a big longshot.

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.