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Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Ballston Spa at Saratoga!
|1||CALL ME LOVE||9/2
|J Rosario||C Clemente|
|M Franco||M Dini|
|T Gaffalione||C Brown|
|4||ANOTHER BROAD *MTO||2/1
|J R Velazquez||C Brown|
|J Castellano||K Attard|
The 2018 Eclipse Award winner Sistercharlie will make her much anticipated return to the races when she tops Saturday’s Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga.
The seven-time Grade 1 winner had a six-race winning streak snapped when she was upset while looking for back-to-back titles in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. The defeat cost her a second consecutive championship, but on Saturday she returns for trainer Chad Brown at a track where she has had much success. The winner of 10-of-15 lifetime figures to rule a strong choice in a compact field set for the Ballston Spa.
Chief among her competition in the 1 1/16-mile turf test will be the reigning Horse of the Year in Canada, Starship Jubilee. She’s been a solid winner in each of her starts this season, which includes the Grade 3 Suwannee River at Gulfstream Park and the Grade 2 Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs. The 7-year-old daughter of Indy Wind has compiled a sparkling career turf record of 17 wins from 34 starts while scoring in seven graded stakes races.
Call Me Love, from the barn of Christophe Clement, figures to be a strong third choice in the Ballston Spa. The chestnut daughter of Sea the Stars was a two-time group stakes winner in Italy before arriving in the United States. She’s had two starts in America so far which includes a solid runner-up finish behind the champion Rushing Fall in the Grade 3 Beaugay at Belmont Park.
|What to watch||Ballston Spa (G2)|
|When||Saturday, July 25— 2:18 pm Eastern time|
|How to watch||Fox Sports|
What a spectacular turf mare this one has been since debuting in France back in December of 2016. She’s won most, but even in defeat, her late kick always needs to be reckoned with. In short, we are lucky as race fans that owner Peter Brant has brought her back for another season, and another run at a championship. Expecting anything less than a top effort in her return race for trainer Chad Brown seems like a shot in the dark, but having said that, this could be a tricky spot. In her Eclipse Award season of 2018, she needed every step of the 9 furlong Diana (G1) to defeat Ultra Brat in the Grade 1 Diana. Now she only gets 1 1/16-miles in her return race and has to run down a streaking turf mare in Starship Jubilee. It’s certainly possible that Sistercharlie will flex her muscles down the lane once again, but at short odds, I am going to take a little shot to beat her with a very classy mare.
At the experienced age of 7, it’s pretty clear that this Kevin Attard-trained mare is better than ever, and considering how good she was last year, that is a pretty scary proposition. She has thoroughly dominated her competition in all three starts this year, and with her good tactical speed, she will get first jump on the leader, ahead of Sistercharlie. Furthermore, while that champion is probably best running a little farther, this 8 ½ furlong trip is right in her wheelhouse. Knocking on the door against the best in recent years, this looks like her best opportunity to defeat one of the best in the world. Her performance in this race last year was good, but likely not good enough to win on Saturday. She’ll have to improve off that lone effort at Saratoga to defeat Sistercharlie, but I believe she can. Considering the odds difference, she is the top pick.
It’s never wise to discount anything coming from the barn of trainer Christophe Clement, especially on the grass. This one was bred in England and proved herself a top-class filly in Italy, winning 5-of-8 starts there. She’s been well supported in her two starts so far in the U.S., which both came in graded stakes at Belmont Park. In each effort, she was beaten by top turf mares in Rushing Fall and Mean Mary, but it was the one at 8 ½ furlongs which she fared much better, finishing a solid second to a champion. With the mediocre race at 10 furlongs behind her, she comes back to the shorter distance again for her third start off the layoff. Improvement on Saturday is expected, but will it be enough to handle the top two? My guess is no, but if either or both don’t run their best, she should be ready to step right in.
The good news is that she comes in off two nice wins in a row, and looks to be in career-best form for trainer Mike Dini. Unfortunately, the Illinois-bred mare has never run against this type before, so her chances to make some real noise on Saturday look slim at best. With the small field, though, perhaps she can rally herself into a decent check.
Chad Brown has entered this lightly raced daughter of Quality Road in the Ballston Spa off of only three-lifetime starts. While there does appear to be some talent there, it looks like she will be utilized in this one as a pacemaker to benefit her champion stablemate. Both mares are owned by Peter Brant. Look for her to set steady early fractions before the top mares roll by her in the stretch.
Will only run if the race is taken off the turf, and with not too much rain forecast leading to Saturday afternoon, she is a likely scratch.
$20 Exacta – Starship Jubilee over Sistercharlie = $20
$5 Exacta – Starship Jubilee over Call Me Love = $5
If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick, Starship Jubilee (2/1).
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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.
Email: [email protected]
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