By Gene Kershner
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Princess of Sylmar backed up her Kentucky Oaks victory with her second straight Grade 1 win at Saratoga Race Course winning the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (CCAO) on Saturday afternoon by six lengths over her closest rival. The Majestic Warrior filly trained by Todd Pletcher, has opened up a sizable lead in the 3-year-old filly division with the win over 1 1/8-miles at the historic race course.
Princess of Sylmar made her move around the far turn and under the guidance of Javier Castellano took over at the top of the stretch and cruised home under a hand ride. She completed the 9-furlongs in 1:37.83 and returned $6.30 for the win, $3.50 for place and $2.60 to show. My Happy Face finished second for trainer Chad Brown paying $3.80 to place and $3.50 to show. Marathon Lady completed the trifecta that paid $72.50 for a $2 wager and paid $3.30 to show.
Castellano was happy to regain the mount on Princess who was ridden by Mike Smith in the Kentucky Oaks. "I had a beautiful trip, the way I handicapped the race, I really liked it. Todd gave me a lot of confidence in the horse and I really appreciate that Todd gave me back the horse. She rode like the best horse in the race. I'm really proud," said Castellano.
The pace scenario wasn't too fast and Castellano was able to stay close enough and save his horse for the later portions of the race. "The thing about it, it was a small field today and she was able to come from behind and she did a great job," said Castellano.
Owner Ed Stanco from nearby Schenectady has been living on cloud nine since the win in the Oaks on the first Friday of May. Winning a Grade 1 race at Saratoga keeps the momentum going for the talented sophomore filly. "I was thrilled the day we won a maiden race here with our New York-bred and here we are with this. This is really, really a special time, it is," said Stanco.
If she remains healthy, Stanco knows exactly what the next two steps on her dance card are. "If she comes out well, she goes to the Alabama and then we'll finish at the Cotillion," said Stanco. The Grade 1 Alabama will be run at the Spa on August 17 over 1 1/4-miles. The extra furlong shouldn't be a huge issue for the chestnut filly who looked to have plenty in the tank after she galloped out today.
In the other graded stakes race on the card, Todd Pletcher completed the stakes sweep when Authenticity ($3) won the 84 Lumber Shuvee (Grade 3) after dawdling fractions. She will be pointed towards the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on August 25.