The Coaching Club American OaksWritten by Jon Stettin
I thought the Coaching Club came up interesting this year, and I think I’ll be taking a nice swing in it. With that in mind, I’ll offer my thoughts on the race and how I plan to go after it.
It is very early in the Saratoga meet, and we have a brand-new surface. Thus far, it seems relatively honest, but that can change with a twitch of the wind or the outburst of a cloud. What is encouraging to me is that horses seem to be able to close ad make up ground. I like level playing fields.
Tonalist’s Shape is a pretty fast horse for Saffie Joseph. She’s a Gulfstream Park specialist and got walloped when she ran into a serious racehorse in Swiss Skydiver. Adding blinkers likely puts her right up on the pace from the rail, but I think she will get pressure and also think the mile and an eighth will get to her.
Antoinette is interesting. She can stalk the pace under Johnny Velazquez and be ready to pounce when the real running starts. She is steadily improving, and Mott keeps her on the dirt, which tells me he thinks she belongs here. I’d call her a serious contender.
Altaf will really have to step up here off the sharp maiden score, but I think she can and will. She got a really nice set up last out and capitalized on it. Regardless she drew off like a nice one, and I suspect she is. She covered a lot of ground and looked like there was still gas in the tank. I’ll land here betting on her possibly being a real nice filly. Hopefully, there will be lots of people saying how Chad Brown doesn’t win on the dirt. I believe he does.
Velvet Crush looks overmatched to me, but does land Jose Ortiz, always a consideration. That said, not enough of a consideration for me to get here.
Bob Baffert sends Crystal Ball in, and she has enough speed to keep Tonalist’s Shape honest. Bob comes to run and always merits respect, but I think this one gets compromised by the pace scenario.
Paris Lights is scary. This filly has gotten really good and is getting even better. Tyler Gaffalione is riding excellent and coming off a Keeneland riding title. He will make the most of his chances this meet, and this is one of them.
I am going to take Altaf to win it. I’ll take her over Antoinette and Paris Lights in the exacta. I think the value will be there and be fair given the small field.
I will use all three in any multi-race wagers, but double or triple up on Altaf depending on how the sequences stack up.
Enjoy the races, everyone! And let’s do some damage this meet!