Bafferts’ Rising star Gamine set to shine in G1 Longines Test at Saratoga

August 6, 2020

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Michael Lund Petersen‘s Gamine headlines a field of six in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Longines Test, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies at Saratoga Race Course.

The Longines Test is one of three Grade 1 events on Saturday’s 12-race Runhappy Travers Day card, headlined by the “Mid-Summer Derby” at 1 1/4 miles for the country’s most talented 3-year-olds and the $300,000 Ballerina presented by NYRA Bets for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up going seven furlongs offering a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

The card is bolstered by the Grade 3, $200,000 Troy, a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint for older males, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Waya, a 1 ½-mile turf route for older fillies and mares. The card will be broadcast on Saratoga Live on FOX Sports and MSG Networks.

Gamine, an Into Mischief bay trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, has crossed the wire first in all three career starts, winning her March debut at Santa Anita by 6 ¼-lengths when sprinting 6 ½-furlongs. In May, she edged Speech, who two starts later captured the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland, in an optional-claiming sprint at Oaklawn where she was subsequently disqualified from purse money.

Last out, the $1.8 million Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale purchase annexed a field of seven in the Grade 1 Longines Acorn by 18 ¾-lengths on June 20 at Belmont Park.

Gamine led the seven-horse field wire-to-wire, completing the course in 1:32.55, marking the fastest of 90 editions of the Acorn and just missed Najran‘s track record of 1:32.24 set in May 2003.

Baffert said Gamine, who breezed six furlongs in 1:12.80 in company with Eclair on Sunday at Del Mar, is coming into Saturday’s test in good order as she marches a path toward the nine-furlong Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on September 4 at Churchill Downs.

“She looks great. We’re keeping her one turn,” said Baffert. “I would have liked to stretch her out one more time, but the timing wasn’t just right for it, but she’s doing really well. She’s a really exciting filly, so hopefully she runs as well as in the past and then we can run her in the Kentucky Oaks.”

Bred in Kentucky by Grace Thoroughbred Holdings, Gamine is out of the Kafwain mare Peggy Jane and will be piloted by Hall of Famer John Velazquez from post 5.

Tracy Farmer‘s Grade 1-winner Perfect Alibi, trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, owns a perfect record from two starts at the Spa. The dark bay daughter of Sky Mesa, bred in Kentucky by Pin Oak Stud, graduated by 9 ½-lengths at first asking in May 2019 in a Churchill Downs maiden sprint.

Following a runner-up effort in the Astoria in June 2019 at Belmont, she shipped upstate to Saratoga and rallied to smart scores in the Grade 2 Adirondack and Grade 1 Spinaway.

She completed a productive 2-year-old campaign with a second in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland and a closing fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita.

After opening her sophomore season with a distant fifth in the Longines Acorn, Perfect Alibi will look to get back on track after a distant fifth in the Acorn.

“It was such a crazy race and the one filly [Gamine] was so awesome, it’s hard to say what happened,” said Casse of the Acorn effort. “She was coming back off a long layoff and it wasn’t an ideal spot, but it was the best spot that was out there for her and it just didn’t work out.”

Perfect Alibi has worked four times since the Acorn, including a half-mile breeze from the gate in 49.44 on July 26 and a swift four furlongs in 48.63 on Sunday both at Saratoga. Casse said he is hoping to motivate the filly for a sharper performance on Saturday.

“She’s not a very good work horse, which also made it difficult coming off the long layoff,” said Casse. “Some horses are easier to get ready than others. We gave her the gate work to get her excited and I thought her last work was very good.”

With a perfect 2-for-2 record at Saratoga, Casse said he is hoping a return to the Spa will be beneficial.

“I’m not sure what to expect this weekend, but the good thing is that she has shown she likes Saratoga,” said Casse. “I’m hoping being at Saratoga will push her along and help her run a little better. We thought about finding an easier spot, but we know much she likes it there.”

Tyler Gaffalione has the call from post 2.

Ciaglia Racing, Highland Yard, River Oak Farm and Dominic SavidesVenetian Harbor, a sophomore daughter of Munnings bred in Kentucky by Colts Neck Stables, completed the exacta behind Speech last out on July 11 in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland.

Trained by Richard Baltas, the pacey filly romped at second asking by 10 ¾-lengths on December 29 at Santa Anita in a 6 ½-furlong maiden sprint and followed up with a front running 9 ¼-length score in the one-mile Grade 2 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita in February to kick off her 3-year-old campaign.

Venetian Harbor stretched out to 1 1/16-miles when second behind Swiss Skydiver in the Grade 3 Fantasy at Oaklawn July 11 ahead of the Ashland and will return to sprinting on Saturday.

A $110,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Venetian Harbor shipped in to the care of assistant trainer Aimee Dollase at Saratoga on Tuesday.

“She traveled well yesterday and ate up well last night. We jogged her this morning and she seems pretty comfortable,” said Dollase. “We’ll gallop her again on Thursday and go to the gate on Friday.

“She’s settled in really well and she’s a smart filly,” added Dollase. “She’s very well-balanced. She’s a nice filly with a good mind and she tries hard.”

Dollase, who traveled with the filly to Oaklawn and Keeneland, said Venetian Harbor should appreciate a turnback in distance after her route efforts.

“At some point, she could get the [route] distance with the right scenario,” said Dollase. “She trained well into those races. She set a quick pace in the Fantasy but the other filly, Swiss Skydiver, is obviously a very good filly and she just ran her down in the last part.

“She ran a big race in the Ashland, as well. She set a nice pace but Speech is coming into her own,” continued Dollase. “She’s been beaten by two very good fillies going long, which is probably more what those fillies wanted to do, so we’ll see how she runs here with a cutback in distance.”

Joel Rosario, aboard for the maiden score, has the call from post 6.

“Joel rides her well and has a lot of confidence in her. It’s always good to have someone on who knows her well. He’s the ultimate professional,” said Dollase.

Alex and JoAnn Lieblong‘s Wicked Whisper, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, sprinted to a memorable first-out graduation last August going six furlongs at Saratoga before stretching out to a one-turn mile to win the Grade 1 Frizette over Frank’s Rockette.

The Liam’s Map chestnut, a $500,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, completed her 2-year-old campaign with a fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and made her seasonal debut on July 10 with a fourth in the Grade 3 Beaumont traveling seven furlongs on the Keeneland main.

Ricardo Santana, Jr., aboard for the maiden voyage, returns to the irons from post 4.

Black Type Thoroughbreds and R.A. Hill Stable‘s Florida-bred Up in Smoke has won 4-of-6 starts, but arrives at the Test looking for her first win outside of Gulfstream Park.

Trained by George Weaver, the grey daughter of The Big Beast bested fellow Florida-breds in her first two starts, both at six furlongs at the Hallandale Beach oval, including a rallying four-length score in an optional-claimer on March 5.

Following an open-company optional-claiming win in April at six furlongs, Up in Smoke stretched out to 1 1/16-miles for the Hollywood Wildcat on May 15 and finished fourth. Up in Smoke returned to sprinting in the 6 ½-furlong Game Face on June 6 and bested Boerne, who exited that effort to win the Azalea at Gulfstream.

Last out, in her first start outside of Gulfstream Park, Up in Smoke finished an even fourth in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at 6 ½-furlongs on July 4 at Belmont Park.

Up in Smoke has breezed twice at Saratoga since the Victory Ride, including a five-eighths effort in 1:02.12 on the main track on July 3.

Luis Saez has the call from the inside post.

Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, who won the Test with Lass Trump [1983] and Versailles Treaty [1991], Mrs. Danvers graduated at second asking last August at Saratoga in a 6 ½-furlong maiden sprint.

The late-running grey has finished second in a pair of allowance efforts at Belmont to start her sophomore season. On June 20, traveling 6 ½-furlongs, she finished 2 ¾-lengths back of Indian Pride, who exited that effort to the win the Shine Again impressively at the Spa on July 17. Last out, traveling a one-turn mile on July 9, Mrs. Danvers lunged at the start before rallying from last-of-6 to complete the exacta, four lengths back of undefeated Grand Cru Classe.

Jose Ortiz, who won the Test with American Gal [2017] and Separationofpowers [2018], retains the mount from post 3.

Field for the G1 Test Stakes

Race 10, post time 5:39 p.m ET

Post, sire, trainer, jockey, owner

1. Up in Smoke (The Big Beast) – George Weaver – Luis Saez – Black Type Thoroughbreds and R. A. Hill Stable

2. Perfect Alibi (Sky Mesa) – Mark Casse – Tyler Gaffalione – Tracy Farmer

3. Mrs. Danvers (Tapit) – Shug McGhauhey – Jose Ortiz – Allen Stable, Inc.

4. Wicked Whisper (Liam’s Map) – Steve Asmussen – Ricardo Santana, Jr. – Alex and JoAnn Lieblong

5. Gamine (Into Mischief) – Bob Baffert – John Velazquez – Michael Lund Petersen

6. Venetian Harbor (Munnings) – Richard Baltas – Joel Rosario – Ciaglia Racing LLC, Highland Yard LLC, River Oak Farm and Savides, Dominic

Covfefe in a wicked stretch duel with Serengeti Empress to win the 2019 Test Stakes

The Grade 1 Longines Test is slated as Race 10 on Saturday’s 12-race card, which offers a first post of 12 p.m. Eastern. Saratoga Live will present daily television coverage of the 40-day summer meet on FOX Sports and MSG Networks. For the complete Saratoga Live broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit

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Edited Press Release

Photo: Gamine wins the 2020 Acorn at Belmont with John Velasquez up. Credit: Skip Dickstein

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