by NYRA Press Office | 08.14.2019 |
After Point of Honor won a thrilling stretch-drive duel against Ulele in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in May at Pimlico, the two talented foes will rematch as part of an accomplished nine-horse field of 3-year-old fillies in the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
The 139th running of the Alabama, contested at 1 1/4 miles, is the centerpiece of the 11-race card that will also include the $100,000 Smart N Fancy, a 5 ½-furlong sprint on the Mellon turf for fillies and mares, and the G2 $200,000 Lake Placid for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Stetson Racing’s Point of Honor has been stabled at Saratoga since June and took to the track in impressive fashion when she ran second to undefeated Guarana by a length in the 1 1/8-mile G1 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 21.
The George Weaver trainee earned a career-best 91 Beyer Speed Figure for the runner-up effort, building on the 90 she earned by edging Ulele by a half length at 1 1/8 miles in the Black-Eyed Susan the day prior to the Preakness on a fast track. Through her first five starts, the Curlin filly has won three times, including a win in the Suncoast on Feb. 9 at Tampa Bay Downs, with her only off-the-board effort coming with a fourth-place finish in the G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on March 30.
“She’s had a good four weeks and she’s been training good. We’re happy with her,” Weaver said. “She’s not a difficult keep. She’s remained happy all year. She likes it here, but she liked it in Florida and liked it in Kentucky [too].”
Bred in Kentucky by Siena Farms, Point of Honor burst on to the scene with a six-length win as a juvenile on Dec. 16 at Gulfstream in a 1 1/16-mile route taken off the turf. Placed into stakes company in her 3-year-old bow, she cruised to a 2 ¾-length win in the Suncoast and followed the Gulfstream Park Oaks by handling the stretch out in distance in the Black-Eyed Susan. She will now be running at the Alabama distance for the first time.
Under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who had the mount in all four of her stakes starts, Point of Honor breezed five furlongs in 1:05.82 on the Oklahoma training track on Aug. 9. Castellano, a three-time Alabama winner, will have the return call on Saturday from post seven.
“She’s bred to handle it and this is the race we’ve had in the back of our minds for several months now,” Weaver said. “It’s going to be up to her and Javier to figure out how to get the win. She was second in the Oaks last time. She has to go get it done, but it’s something we’re looking forward to.
“Javier worked her the other day and the time was slow, but he thought she felt good underneath him. She’s never has been a horse who has worked particularly fast, so I’m not too concerned with the time of the workout,” he added. “She came out of it well and I expect her to run her race.”