2020 Coaching Club American Oaks (Saratoga) - Predictions, Odds & Picks

Coaching Club American Oaks Saratoga 2020

“If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick, Paris Lights (7/2).” Brian Zipse

Coaching Club American Oaks Odds

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga!

PP Horse Odds Jockey
I Ortiz Jr.
J Velazquez
3 ALTAF 5/2
J Rosario
J Ortiz
J Castellano
T Gaffalione

The road to the Kentucky Oaks continues on opening weekend at Saratoga as a field of six sophomore fillies will face off in Saturday’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks.

Tonalist’s Shape, on the strength of a 6-of-7 lifetime record, which includes four stakes wins, ships in from South Florida and figures to go favored in the $350,000 race at the historic Upstate New York racetrack for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.

Chief among her rivals in the prestigious 9 furlong race will be a trio of lightly raced and promising fillies from three of the top barns in the country.

Altaf was an eye-catching come from behind winner last time at Churchill Downs for trainer Chad Brown, while the Bob Baffert trained Crystal Ball romped home on the front end in her maiden breaking effort last time at Santa Anita. Paris Lights is the most experienced of the trio of up-and-comers, having won two straight impressively at Churchill Downs for her trainer, Bill Mott.

The Coaching Club American Oaks offers qualifying points towards the September 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1) on a scale of 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers.

Coaching Club American Oaks Race Information

What to watch Coaching Club American Oaks (G1)
Where Saratoga Race Course
When Saturday, July 18 — 6:16 pm Eastern time
How to watch Fox Sports
Purse $350,000

Race Analysis

Tonalist’s Shape

A consistent winner in Florida, we now get to see if she can successfully take her show on the road on Saturday. She’ll also need to prove she can go the 9 furlong trip, as well. The daughter of Tonalist has plenty of stakes experience, but in her toughest test to date she failed to stay on down the stretch. There are no Swiss Skydivers in this race, but there are several good looking fillies of potential ready to step up. Breaking from the rail, adding blinkers, and coming off a sharp 3 furlong work, look for the favorite to go right out to the lead, but with other speed in here, I am going to take a stand against her at a new track and distance.


Turned more than a few heads when she rolled by the field in a May 23 maiden race in Louisville. That effort was her first try on the dirt after debuting one month earlier on the turf. This will be a big step up in class, but the Shadwell homebred has the pedigree for the distance and looks the part of a filly of quality. Devoid of early speed in her first two, she will need to keep in touch with this field early, before uncorking her potent late run. Trained by Chad Brown, look for her to get plenty of support at the windows. She is not the top pick, but would come as no surprise if she becomes a Grade 1 winner in her third-lifetime start.

Paris Lights

An attractive daughter of Curlin, she also exits a good looking victory at Churchill Downs. In fact, she won two straight there by daylight following a decent debut in a sloppy maiden sprint at Gulfstream Park. I believe she will be in a good position in this one tactically, as she can sit off the early pace, but has enough early foot to be right there when the running begins. With two consecutive wins going 8 ½ furlongs, the extra sixteenth of a mile should be no problem at all. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione sticks with her, and as the third or fourth betting choice in here, she should offer solid value. She is the top pick.

Crystal Ball

Other than running style, she looks very much like Altaf, in that she really put things together in her second career start. It was a sharp front-running score at Santa Anita that points her out as a filly on the rise. Now she ships cross-country and steps up in class, so the task is not a small one, but she’s in good hands and is bred to handle the distance. She’ll likely be one of three that contest the early pace, which could be difficult. She might be one race away, but it’s hard to throw her out off that maiden win.

Velvet Crush

A little inconsistent so far in her career, she did come through with a career-best victory last time against a strong allowance field at Churchill Downs. She’s another, though, that will likely be part of the early pace. I respect the daughter of Tapit’s performance in her last race, but this race set up, coupled with her past inconsistencies, forced me to look elsewhere in this Grade 1 affair.


The second from the Hall of Fame barn of Bill Mott, she has bounced back and forth between turf and dirt in her career with solid form on both surfaces. Her lone stakes win to date came on the dirt last year, but was in a race taken off the turf. This year, she has yet to find the winner’s circle, although each effort came in stakes racing, and all three were solid tries. Her last race was on turf and quite good when third in Belmont’s Wonder Again (G3). Her experience and tactical speed make her an interesting filly to use underneath in the exotics.

Best Bets for the Coaching Club American Oaks

Here are my plays ($30 in total)

$10 Exacta Box – Paris Lights and Altaf = $20

$5 Exacta part wheel – Paris Lights over Antoinette and Crystal Ball

If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick, Paris Lights (7/2).

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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.

Email: [email protected]