SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Live Oak Plantation’s Florida homebred Our Flash Drive leads a talented field of eight in Sunday’s $135,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose, a one-mile inner turf test restricted to older fillies and mares yet to win a graded-stakes this year, at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, the multiple graded-stakes winner enters from a close third in the one-mile Grade 2 Nassau on July 2 over firm turf at Woodbine Racetrack when defeated one length by dead-heat winners Lady Speightspeare and Crystal Cliffs.
Grade 1-winner Lady Speightspeare led the way with the Patrick Husbands-piloted Our Flash Drive pressing through three-quarters in a swift 1:08.46. The pacesetter had a head in front at the stretch call before Our Flash Drive took a narrow lead in upper stretch, but the Casse trainee could not maintain her advantage the length of the expansive E.P. Taylor Turf Course and settled for third.
“I thought she ran well. She looked like a winner but Woodbine has a long stretch and sometimes it’s difficult for those fillies,” Casse said. “I think she’ll enjoy the Saratoga turf course better than she enjoyed the Woodbine turf course.”
The 4-year-old Ghostzapper bay kicked off her sophomore season with a trio of wins at Woodbine, making the grade last July over the Tapeta in the Grade 3 Selene and followed one month later with a prominent score in the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen at one-mile over the turf. Although yet to win in three starts this campaign, she has a perfect in-the-money record led by a strong second to Rougir in the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 14 at Belmont Park under Dylan Davis, who returns to ride from post 6.
Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Michael J. Caruso’s graded-stakes winner Plum Ali finished fourth last out in the Nassau with Davis aboard.
The 4-year-old daughter of First Samurai has made two starts on the Saratoga turf, graduating on debut in July 2020 by two lengths over returning rival Stunning Princess and a closing fourth in last year’s Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks Invitational.
Plum Ali made the grade in the 2020 Grade 2 Miss Grillo before running fifth in that year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland.
The chestnut closed out her sophomore account with a win in the Winter Memories in November at Aqueduct and returned a winner in April at the Big A in her seasonal debut in the Plenty of Grace.
Plum Ali, who has made her last two starts in graded company, worked a half-mile in 49.60 on Sunday over the Belmont main track before shipping up to Saratoga.
“She’s doing very well,” Clement said. “She had an easy work at Belmont and this should be an easier race than what she’s been running. She likes Saratoga.”
Manny Franco, aboard for her Aqueduct wins, has the call from post 4.
Starlight Racing and Glen Hill Farm’s Jouster won 3-of-6 starts last year, taking the one-mile Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland in gate-to-wire fashion over next-out Grade 2 Edgewood winner Gift List.
Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old Noble Mission bay has made four starts this campaign, entering from her lone win on July 3 in the Perfect Sting contested at one-mile over firm Belmont turf.
Luis Saez retains the mount from post 5.
Flying P Stable’s Assertive Style finished a close sixth last out in the six-furlong Grade 3 Intercontinental on June 10 at Belmont, defeated 2 1/4-lengths by the victorious Caravel.
The Tom Morley trainee was claimed for $80,000 out of a runner-up effort in March at Fair Grounds and immediately picked up graded black type with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Vagrancy on May 14 over Big Sandy.
Assertive Style has made two previous attempts at stretching out to one-mile on the turf without hitting the board, but Morley said the 4-year-old daughter of Nyquist could benefit from a patient steer by returning Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano.
“I just feel that if we can get her covered up and Javier can get her to settle that she will get the trip. She’s in really good order and it seems like a logical spot for her,” Morley said.
The consistent dark bay, who sports a record of 18-5-1-4 for purse earnings of $194,814, will exit post 8.
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown has won three of the last four editions of the De La Rose, including last year with Regal Glory. He will saddle Love and Thunder and Nazuna on Sunday with both contenders looking to earn their first stakes score.
John Gunther and Tanya Gunther’s Love and Thunder, a 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Siyouni, finished third last out as the even-money favorite in the Perfect Sting. She was an impressive winner of her seasonal debut in May at Belmont, rallying from next-to-last to capture a one-mile optional-claimer by 1 1/2-lengths to garner a career-best 89 Beyer Speed Figure.
Nazuna, a 4-year-old daughter of Kodiac owned by Pantofel Stable, Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber and Peter Deutsch, enters from a sharp allowance score on July 8 traveling one-mile over the Belmont lawn. The Irish-bred finished second in the 2020 Group 2 Rockfel at Newmarket for former trainer Roger Varian before joining Brown’s stable last June.
Love And Thunder will leave the inside post under Irad Ortiz, Jr. while Nazuna will emerge from post 2 under Flavien Prat.
Rounding out the field are In Good Spirits [post 7, John Velazquez], winner of the Grade 3 Ladies Sprint in September at Kentucky Downs for trainer Al Stall, Jr.; graded-stakes placed Stunning Princess [post 3, Joel Rosario] for conditioner Danny Gargan; and main-track only entrants Halo City and Battle Bling.
The De La Rose is slated as Race 9 on Sunday’s 10-race card which also features the Grade 3 Adirondack in Race 4 and the Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks Invitational in Race 7. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
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Photo: Our Flash Drive (Michael Burns)