The CCA Oaks (Grade 1)- $300.000 Purse
SAR- For Fillies Three Years Old
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
July 23, 2017
It’s truly exciting for me to be back at SAR to cover the racing at this great race track. The meet has begun, and now we are into our first weekend of racing. There will many great stories that get written from this track over the next six weeks both in the real world, and in our virtual world. It starts off for me here with The CCA Oaks, a race that was initially held at BEL before the dates of the SAR meet were changed by NYRA in 2010 to send this racing weekend upstate. The first winner of The CCA Oaks at the Spa in our world was the great Mrs Bombastic. We didn’t know it at the time, but that ended up being her final race for Blushing Meadows, who ended up selling her for over $2,000.000 to Ken Allan. Is there a Mrs Bombastic in this field? Well, not quite, but that’s more because you have to be a legend to be comparable to her. We will still have a strong field for this race which is highlighted by our reigning KYO champion, K T D, plus another one that won a big race at CD that same day. Who was that? Well you’ll have to read on to find that out! The field is small, but not short of talent. Here are our runners!
#1- Watch Me Now (Nolespan Racing, ridden by M E Smith)- The trainer got lucky on St. Patrick’s Day when he picked up this filly in a $25.000 claimer from Smokey Stover. She was rather unaccomplished prior to that, and it’s pretty remarkable what Nolespan has done with her, because the trainer really has not made a dramatic change with her. Right away, she was put into the Grade 1 Ashland at KEE, just three weeks after the claim, and she was fourth and missed by one length. It wasn’t a win, but still an eye opener given the jump she had made. In three races with much higher purses, she still has not won, but has been very competitive. Coming off a 4th place finish in the $500.000 WO Oaks, a race won by Toleration with Whispering Nurse second, where she had a nice close coming from the outside. I think it will be more of the same for her here.
#2- Whispering Nurse (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- This trainer is always excited to come to SAR, and it would be a great way for him to start the meet by picking up a win here in the CCA Oaks. Whispering Nurse was the answer to my question in the introduction as well, as while K T D won the feature race in the KYO, Whispering Nurse took home the Grade 2 Eight Belles. It was one of the four victories that she has had in her career, and she has never failed to hit the board, and I do think that trend will continue here. In her last start, she was second to Toleration in the WO Oaks. The race is a good precursor to this one, as it had 60% of our current field. In watching the race just now, I like how she was resurgent in the stretch and think it will be exciting to see them go at it again.
#3- K T D (Aer Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- The winner of the KYO followed up that victory quite nicely a month later with a second place finish in the Grade 1 Acorn. She is on the best form of her career right now, and I see no reason why she cannot have a fantastic summer, which could get kickstarted well here in the CCA Oaks. She is a closer, and had to come from way off the pace in the Acorn to get up for second. I hate to predict pace in a preview, because we all really know how futile of an effort that probably is in this virtual world, but find it interesting having just watched Whispering Nurse and Toleration battle it out in the WO Oaks before getting to K T D to figure in where K T D’s running style may fit into that equation. I’ll leave that to Aer Stables to figure out, but they better be looking over their shoulders for this champion in the stretch.
#4- Fake Chow (M.b.o. Racing Stable, ridden by J R Velazquez)- This Dexter filly has won three of 11 career starts to this point, but is still in search of her first stake win. Until this spring, and with the exception of trying the Grade 2 Adirondack here last year, Fake Chow had been an allowance horse and fared well. She’s been running well in these races, being within a length in a fourth place finish at the SUN Oaks, and then ran third against a quality group at the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan. From fourth, to third, and then to second in her most recent start, the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at CD. Following that pattern, a win should be next, but it will be tough. I think the race could set up ideally for her style, but as I said with K T D, we all know predicting pace is futile.
#5- Toleration (Mb Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- As we have already mentioned, this filly is coming off a win in her last start at the WO Oaks, a $500.000 race for Canadian fillies, that saw three of our five runners today also compete in. In that race, it looked like Toleration got a perfect trip from start to finish. She stalked the pace early, methodically advanced her position, and seemed to poised to take control of the race in the stretch. That’s what she would do, although late in the race, the relevant horses to today, both Whispering Nurse and Watch Me Now, were gaining ground on her in the dying moments. And we should assume that K T D will be doing the exact same thing as well. It may be tough to duplicate that effort, and if she does it will be with a new jockey since Velazquez will be aboard Fake Chow. She’s had a good year, though, with two wins in five starts, and she was a participant in the BC Juvenile Fillies last year. It’s going to be exciting!