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Meet the Contenders: Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga | Thursday, July 11, 2024

by Jeremy Plonk

July 9, 2024

Opening day at Saratoga kicks off New York’s premier racing meeting on Thursday. The traditional feature to start Saratoga summers is the Schuylerville Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, highlight of an 11-race card that gets underway at 1:10 pm ET.

Let’s meet the contenders for the Schuylerville (Race 10):

#1-AORAKI: $11,000 bargain buy won her debut at Churchill in May before a head runner-up in the Astoria over this track during the Belmont Stakes Festival. Steve Asmussen has trained a trio of Schuylerville winners (2008, ’09, ’13). Sire Dominus was a Saratoga dirt allowance winner and graded stakes winner on the local turf.

#2-WEST MEMORIAL: 17-1 upset winner of Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Juvenile Stakes in May was disappointing in her reappearance when fifth in the Astoria over the Saratoga track on June 6. Daughter of Caracaro makes her first start for George Weaver, who returns from suspension. Jockey Manny Franco takes over, fresh off a meet title during Belmont at Aqueduct.

#3-SHERBINI: Daylight winner of her only start at Churchill Downs in a restricted maiden contest. Pulled clear late at 11-1 odds for trainer Mark Casse, who won the ’18 Schuylerville with Catherinethegreat.

#4-SLANG: $190,000 Omaha Beach filly was a second-start maiden break at Churchill Downs for the Norm Casse barn. No match late at first asking vs. eventual Debutante Stakes winner Vodka With a Twist, a race conducted over a sloppy track.

#5-COMPLEXION: Smashing, 6-1/2 length debut winner during the Belmont at Aqueduct meeting didn’t catch anyone by surprise while strongly favored. The $400,000 daughter of Complexity is bred for speed on both sides and returns jockey John Velazquez, a record 5-time winner of the Schuylerville. Trainer Danny Gargan hopes to ride the momentum of Belmont Stakes winner Dornoch back to the Spa.

#6-CARMEN’S CANDY JAR: Vino Rosso filly surged late to win her debut against restricted maidens June 23 as the 3-5 favorite. Moves upstate for Todd Pletcher, whose 6 Schuylerville victories are tied with D. Wayne Lukas for most in race history. Granddaughter of

#7-DREAMGIRL: 12-1 Churchill Downs debut upsetter for Mike Maker outlasted the competition on the front over 5 furlongs. Mo Town filly drew $65,000 bid in April at Ocala. Jockey Luis Saez seeks a third Schuylerville win.

#8-WHATINTHELITERAL: Took 3 starts to break her maiden, but did so with a 13-1 upset in the Astoria Stakes over this Saratoga track on June 6 (pictured above). Jockey Javier Castellano aims for back-to-back Schuylerville wins and a potential fourth of his career. Trainer Jena Antonucci is best-known for 2023 Belmont-Travers winner Archangelo.

#9-LONG NECK PAULA: $500,000 Ocala March purchase paid quick dividends with a May 2 wire job in her Churchill Downs debut over 4-1/2 furlongs. Trainer Wesley Ward loses jockey John Velazquez to Complexion on Thursday, but picks up Flavien Prat. Dam Take Charge Paula won her first 2 starts and was a multiple stakes winner as a juvenile.

#10-VIGGIEDAL: Five-length debut winner June 14 at Churchill Downs is by red-hot first-crop sire Vekoma, whose juveniles are a ridiculous 19: 10-3-3 so far this year. Tyler Gaffalione rides for 3-time Schuylerville-winning trainer Steve Asmussen. $350,000 Ocala purchase in March should vie for favoritism.

#-11: THE QUEENS M G: 45-1 Keeneland debut stunner was sold in the aftermath, but unable to deliver in her Astoria Stakes return as the 2-1 favorite. Troubled start at Saratoga put the Saffie Joseph Jr. trainee in makeup mode and she faded to finish seventh. Barn has been hot throughout July, including Saturday’s Delaware Handicap victory by Honor D Lady.