Trio of Pletcher Fillies Headline $135K Wilton

July 9, 2022

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will send out three graded stakes-placed fillies to try and capture the inaugural running of the $135,000 Wilton, a one-mile test for sophomore fillies over the main track, at Saratoga Race Course. 

The Wilton marks the return of dirt races at the mile distance over Saratoga’s main track for the first time since 1992 when 25 races started from the one-mile Wilson Chute. The chute was reconstructed over the winter and will see two other stakes conducted from it during the 40-day summer meet: the $125,000 Evan Shipman Handicap for New York-bred 3-year-olds and up and its female counterpart, the $125,000 Johnstone Mile. 

Pletcher’s trio is led by the multiple graded stakes-placed Mineshaft filly Goddess of Fire, a half-sister to dual Grade 1-winner and stablemate Mind Control. Goddess of Fire looks to rebound from a last-out 11th-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks when she raced far off the pace and never fired. 

“She’s coming out of the Oaks, which obviously was a very difficult race,” said Pletcher. “She’s done well with a little time. She broke her maiden at Saratoga and we feel like she likes the track.”

A homebred for Red Oak Stable, Goddess of Fire was a debut winner in August at Saratoga sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs before trying graded company with a distant third in the Grade 3 Pocahontas stretching out to 1 1/16 miles in September at Churchill Downs. She followed with an off-the-board finish in the one-mile Tempted at Belmont to close out her juvenile season. 

Goddess of Fire showed great improvement in the first half of her sophomore campaign, earning a trio of runner-up efforts in the Gasparilla at Tampa Bay Downs; the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds Race Course when defeated just a half-length by Turnerloose; and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks where she was defeated 2 3/4 lengths by Kathleen O. 

“I think she’s shown in the Gulfstream Oaks that she’s a nice filly,” said Pletcher. 

Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride Goddess of Fire form post 1. 

Grade 1-placed A Mo Reay will return to stakes company for owners My Racehorse Stable and Spendthrift Farm for the first time since finishing an even third in the Grade 1 Frizette as a maiden in October, defeated by subsequent 2021 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Echo Zulu and Grade 2 Mother Goose winner Gerrymander. 

The dark bay Uncle Mo filly was last seen taking a first level allowance by 2 1/4 lengths on June 10 at Laurel Park after battling for the lead and running on gamely down the stretch under Victor Carrasco to secure her second win. The effort came on the heels of a 1 1/16-mile allowance in April at Keeneland when she raced towards the rear of the 10-horse field and was eased before being walked off. 

“She came back well and we felt like this was a logical progression for her,” said Pletcher. “She’s Grade 1-placed and we would love to get some black type with her.

“I don’t know what happened at Keeneland,” Pletcher added. “That was bizarre, because she was training lights out. She was actually training with [Grade 1-winner] Nest, who won the Ashland later on the card. It was just one of those classic throw-out races that we had no explanation for.”

Irad Ortiz, Jr. has the call from post 9. 

Stonestreet Stables’ Favor is in search of her third win this year after finishing off-the-board last out in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan on May 20 at Pimlico Race Course when fifth behind the victorious Interstatedaydream. 

Pletcher said the a wide trip throughout was difficult for Favor. 

“I thought she kind of had a rough trip in the Black-Eyed Susan,” said Pletcher. “But she’s rebounded and trained good.” 

A gray daughter of Pioneerof the Nile, Favor won her first two starts this year with a maiden-breaking score at second asking on January 9 in a one-mile maiden ahead of a 4 1/2-length romp in a first-level allowance over the same surface and distance. She then finished third in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks just 2 1/4 lengths behind Echo Zulu in her graded stakes debut. 

“I think a mile is good for her,” said Pletcher. 

A $500,000 purchase at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearling Showcase, Favor is a half-sister to promising undefeated juvenile Gulfport, who captured the Bashford Manor sprinting six furlongs on July 4 at Churchill Downs. 

Tyler Gaffalione will guide Favor from post 6. 

LBD Stable, Manganaro Bloodstock and David Ingordo’s dual Grade 1-placed Tarabi makes her second start off a six-month layoff for trainer Cherie DeVaux. The daughter of First Samurai finished second in her sophomore debut sprinting seven furlongs in allowance company on June 18 at Churchill. 

Tarabi’s juvenile season was highlighted by a pair of Grade 1 placings in the Frizette in October at Belmont when second to Echo Zulu, and in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in November at Del Mar where she finished third, 5 3/4 lengths behind the same foe. She has a perfect in-the-money record of 4-1-2-1 and earnings of $296,000. 

Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano, who has piloted Tarabi for 3-of-4 starts, will ride again from post 7. 

Michael J. Ryan’s Sweet Solare enters from a third-place finish behind Hot Peppers in the Jersey Girl on June 12 at Belmont for trainer Horacio De Paz. The Into Mischief bay graduated at second asking in February in a six-furlong maiden over a sloppy and sealed Aqueduct main track ahead of an off-the-board finish in the Cicada and subsequent allowance win on May 7. 

Sweet Solare, who is cross-entered in $150,000 Coronation Cup over the turf on Friday at Saratoga, will be ridden by Kendrick Carmouche from post 5. 

Completing the field are two-time winners Gina Romantica [post 2, Flavien Prat] for trainer Chad Brown and Angitude [post 4, Joel Rosario] for conditioner Brad Cox; maiden winner St Maarten Girl [post 3, Ricardo Santana, Jr.] for trainer Juan Vazquez, and the stakes-placed Let’s Be Clear [post 8, Jose Lezcano] for trainer Linda Rice.

The Wilton is slated as Race 7 on Thursday’s 10-race Opening Day card, which features the six-furlong Grade 3, $175,000 Schuylerville for juvenile fillies in Race 9. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern. 

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