SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Michael Schrader’s New York-bred Robin Sparkles will look to add to her Saratoga Race Course success when facing eight others in Saturday’s $150,000 Smart N Fancy, a 5 1/2-furlong Mellon turf sprint for fillies and mares 4-years-old and upward over the Mellon turf course.
Robin Sparkles was last seen holding off a late charge from several rivals to post a 21-1 upset in the Grade 3 Caress July 23 at the Spa. Flaunting her usual frontrunning fashion, Robin Sparkles held off a late rally from Souper Sensational to win by a head while earning a career-high 93 Beyer Speed Figure.
Conditioned by Bruce Brown, the Elusive Quality mare was third in last year’s running of this race and has never finished off-the-board in five career races at the Spa. She is the only horse in the field to finish in-the-money three straight years at Saratoga [2020-22].
“Five-and-a-half [furlongs] up here is definitely her thing,” said Brown. “A few of those races last year, the turf was maybe not as firm as she likes it and she still ran her race.”
Robin Sparkles used her speed to her advantage in the Caress, going out to an uncontested lead. Brown said similar tactics will be in play on Saturday.
“She’s going to do what she does,” said Brown. “You’re not going to duck anybody up here. This is where everybody points for.”
Robin Sparkles will look to improve on an already impressive ledger of 16-9-2-3 and add to the more than $530,000 already in the bank. Bred in the Empire State by Hibiscus Stables, Robin Sparkles defeated state-breds in stakes company going one mile in last year’s off-the-turf Mount Vernon at Belmont Park.
“Her in-the-money percentage is just incredible,” said Brown. “She’s going to run and we’ll see what the other ones do.”
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will return to the irons from post 3.
Qatar Racing, Marc Detampel and Madaket Stables’ Grade 1-placed Caravel will look to return to her winning ways after a troubled trip in the Caress. Off a step slow, the Brad Cox trainee was forced to steady along the rail around the turn before slowly dropping out of contention and finishing last-of-nine.
This year alone saw Caravel capture the Grade 3 Intercontinental on June 10 at Belmont Park two starts after capturing the Queen on March 19 over synthetic at Turfway Park.
Caravel has banked $565,277 for her connections through a record of 16-9-0-3, which includes stakes victories over six different racetracks.
Luis Saez will pick up the mount from post 9.
Hat Creek Racing’s Irish-bred Illegal Smile, last seen finishing an even fifth in the Intercontinental, returns to the Spa for her third start of this campaign.
Trained by Wesley Ward, Illegal Smile opened 2022 with a career-high 93 Beyer in an allowance victory at Keeneland before finishing a close fifth in the Intercontinental.
Ward said Illegal Smile’s best races have come on good turf.
“She seems to be better if there’s a little rain,” said Ward. “She always steps it up a bit if there’s a little give in the ground. We’re hoping for a little bit of cut in the ground.”
Jose Ortiz has the call from post 7.
Perry Harrison’s Change of Control comes to Saratoga on the heels of a victory in the Andy Guest on July 18 at Colonial Downs.
The six-year-old Fed Biz mare will make the 38th start of her career, something trainer Michelle Lovell is not concerned about given how well her filly handles everything asked of her.
“She’s super professional and knows the drill,” said Lovell. “She loves to travel and has always done really well doing it.”
Change of Control breezed a half-mile in 51 seconds August 10 at Colonial.
“She works really well. She worked with my other horse a couple weeks ago on the turf,” said Lovell. “She just had a nice, easy stretch out the other day. She was perfect.”
The most experienced horse in the field, Change of Control is 10-8-7 in 37 career starts, 35 of which came under Lovell’s care, and boasts field high earnings of $923,725.
Colby Hernandez retains the mount from post 1.
Rounding out the field are Fouette [post 2, Jose Lezcano], Sarah Harper [post 4, Flavien Prat], and the Christophe Clement-trained trio of Too Sexy [post 5, Joel Rosario], Miss J McKay [post 6, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and Lady Edith [post 8, Trevor McCarthy]. Spicy Marg is entered for the main-track only.
The Smart N Fancy is slated as Race 9 on Saturday’s 11-race program, which is headlined by the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama in Race 10 and includes the Grade 2, $200,000 Lake Placid in Race 8. First post is 12:30 p.m. Eastern.
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NYRA Press Office
Photo by Susie Raisher