'Chargingmaria' hopes to strike again
Between the $1.05 million earned by Stopchargingmaria and the $394,000 earned by Stopshoppingmaria, owner Mike Repole is getting his money's worth from his wife Maria's apparent shopping sprees. There was even Stopspendingmaria, who placed in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes in her brief four-race career.
So, with three black-type fillies, Repole should hope his pleas to his wife go unheeded. What's next, Stopsplurgingmaria? Why not? It is doubtful that Repole's credit card statements from Bloomingdales and Lord and Taylor exceed the earnings of his wife's equine namesakes.
As dominant as Stopchargingmaria was in last month's Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga Race Course, one would think she is about to add to her growing bankroll in the $600,000 Alabama Stakes Aug. 16.
There doesn't appear to be a Princess of Sylmar, Beholder, or Close Hatches in this year's Alabama, nor is the leading 3-year-old filly Untapable in the field, which leaves this edition of Saratoga's premier race for 3-year-old fillies, in which nine were entered, fairly wide open.
Or maybe not. Stopchargingmaria could possibly catapult herself right up to the top of her division, or at least within striking range of Untapable, if she can score another authoritative victory in the Alabama. She's already defeated most of her opponents, who are just hoping for a different result stretching out to 1 ¼ miles.
ALABAMA STAKES DRAW
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But two uninspiring performances in the Davona Dale Stakes and Fantasy Stakes suggested the filly did not make the transition from 2 to 3. She quickly returned to her 2-year-old form, however, winning the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and then followed that up with a resounding five-length victory in the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Several of those she soundly defeated in the CCA Oaks are back for another crack at her in the Alabama, most notably second- and third-place finishers Unbridled Forever and Miss Besilu. Others are Delaware Oaks winner Fortune Pearl, who Stopchargingmaria defeated in the Black-Eyed Susan, and Joint Return, who was second in the Delaware Oaks, and who Stopchargingmaria defeated by almost five lengths in the Black-Eyed Susan.
Another filly with some ability is America, but Stopchargingmaria beat her by 12 lengths in the CCA Oaks and 5 ¼ lengths in the Black-Eyed Susan. So it is difficult trying to find a filly who has yet to be soundly defeated by the Todd Pletcher-trained filly.
The one proven stakes filly who does fit that bill is Adele Dilschneider's Size, who captured the Iowa Oaks in her last start for Bill Mott. The daughter of First Samurai has run only race around two turns in her four-race career and that was 1 1/16 miles in the Iowa Oaks. So she has a tough chore ahead of her, stretching out to 10 furlongs. But she has won three of her four career starts.
A filly with even less experience is Catch My Drift, trained by Chad Brown. The daughter of Pioneerof the Nile is 2-for-2, both at a mile and 70 yards-once at Parx Racing and the other at Monmouth Park, in which she won off by 4 ¼ lengths.
Pletcher also has entered Got Lucky, who was only beaten a neck by Stopchargingmaria in the Demoiselle, and this year was a well-beaten second in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes and Gazelle Stakes before finishing up the track in the Kentucky Oaks. The well-bred daughter of A.P. Indy sharpened for the Alabama by winning a hard-fought allowance race at Saratoga going 1 ⅛ miles.
Unbridled Forever, who drew the rail, has finished in the money in her past six starts and did win the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds back in January, but couldn't come anywhere near Untapable in the Fair Grounds Oaks and Kentucky Oaks. She closed from 12th to finish third in the one-mile Acorn Stakes, beaten 4 ½ lengths by Sweet Reason, before finishing second in the CCA Oaks. Dallas Stewart, who trained her dam, Lemons Forever, to win the Kentucky Oaks, is hoping the daughter of Unbridled's Song can turn the tables on Stopchargingmaria at the longer distance.