Although the $200,000 Shuvee (G3) is technically no longer Sunday’s marquee event at Saratoga, thanks to the transfer of the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) from the canceled Saturday card, the 1 1/8-mile test retains plenty of luster. The local prep for the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Personal Ensign (G1) has come up a dandy with the return of Wow Cat and the presence of a few upwardly mobile rivals, led by She’s a Julie.
Wow Cat ran a mighty race off the bench in last summer’s Shuvee. Making her U.S. debut for Chad Brown, the former Chilean Horse of the Year went down by only a neck. She regressed to third behind Abel Tasman and Elate in the Personal Ensign, but regained her top form in the Beldame (G1).
Her first Grade 1 coup here earned her a free berth to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), where she rallied from hopelessly far back to snatch second from Midnight Bisou. Considering her poor early position, Wow Cat would have gotten closer than a length to champion Monomoy Girl with a reasonable trip.
Resuming in the same comeback spot, but now with the benefits of long-term acclimation, Wow Cat is eligible to turn in another big effort in the Shuvee. Jose Ortiz has the return call aboard the 9-5 favorite on the morning line.
She’s a Julie counters with race-fitness and a Grade 1 laurel of her own in the La Troienne (G1) on Kentucky Oaks Day. Named in honor of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s wife, the 2-1 second choice has carried over her progression from three to four. She’s a Julie was a better-than-appears second in last year’s Alabama (G1) here, since she chased the demanding pace in the 1 1/4-mile war.
The Iowa Oaks (G3) and Remington Park Oaks (G3) winner added another title in her four-year-old bow, the Bayakoa (G3) at Oaklawn, and showed the heart and determination of her namesake to prevail in the La Troienne. She’s a Julie tired to third last time out in the Fleur de Lis (G2) back at Churchill Downs, unable to contain a peaking Elate and headed for second late by Blue Prize. Drawn on the rail with Ricardo Santana Jr., the 124-pound highweight must give Wow Cat four pounds.
Golden Award, a Medaglia d’Oro half-sister to Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) champion I’ll Have Another, comes off a gallant near-miss in the Allaire DuPont Distaff (G3) at PImlico. The Bill Mott pupil couldn’t overcome Mylady Curlin’s twin advantage of having the lead on the inside, but lost no luster in a race that flirted with the track record. Pink Sands enters in career form for Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey. The daughter of Tapit and Grade 1 vixen Her Smile, who broke her maiden at the Spa last August, dominated the June 22 Lady’s Secret at Monmouth.
Wow Cat’s stablemate Electric Forest, last seen landing the Doubledogdare (G3) at Keeneland, is cross-entered to Saturday’s Molly Pitcher (G3) at Monmouth. So is 2018 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) scorer Coach Rocks, and West Point Thoroughbreds reported via Twitter that she’s Jersey-bound.
Ladies H. winner Forever Liesl has placed in three straight stakes, most recently being elevated to second in Monmouth’s Serena’s Song, while 2018 Monmouth Oaks (G3) vixen Skeptic must bounce back from a virtual easing in the Fleur de Lis.