If the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks field is all that remains of the 3-year-old filly division after the departure of Untapable to compete with the opposite sex, there's going to be an excellent chance at Saratoga Race Course this summer for someone to pick up a big purse and a Grade 1 victory.
Despite the absence of Untapable, who chose to run in the Haskell Invitational Handicap instead of running in the CCA Oaks at 1-10 or lower, only six fillies showed up for a race that used to be the crowning achievement for a 3-year-old filly and the final leg of the NYRA Filly Triple Crown.
That's not to say there aren't any nice fillies competing in the 1 ⅛-mile event at Saratoga July 20, but with only one graded stakes winner, the race should be pretty much up for grabs.
That one graded stakes winner is Stopchargingmaria, who has actually captured three graded events -- the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and Demoiselle Stakes and the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes. But the daughter of Tale of the Cat has a far stronger resume than that, having placed in the Grade 1 Spinaway and Frizette Stakes.
COACHING CLUB AMERICAN OAKS DRAW
Most of those races, however, were last year, and other than her neck score in the Black-Eyed Susan, she hasn't done much else this season, finishing fourth in the Fantasy Stakes and fifth in the Davona Dale Stakes.
With a record of four victories in eight starts, the Repole Stable filly should be tough in here, but may actually vie for favoritism with Unbridled Forever. Javier Castellano rides for Todd Pletcher and will break from the rail.
With no real standout favorite, anyone is capable of getting the job done with a career-best performance.
The most accomplished of the others is indeed Unbridled Forever, who won the listed Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in January. She then ran into the unstoppable force known as Untapable, finishing a well-beaten third behind the Steve Asmussen-trained filly in the Fair Grounds Oaks and Kentucky Oaks before finishing a fast-closing third in the Acorn Stakes.
It was that third-place finish, rallying from 12th in the 13-horse field that will attract the daughter of Unbridled's Song to the bettors. Joel Rosario, who rode her for the first time in the Acorn, will be back aboard for trainer Dallas Stewart and owner Charles Fipke.
Bill Mott has a couple in the race, and both Miss Besilu, owned by Besilu Stables, and America, owned by Bobby Flay, are not without chances.
After four tries on the grass and one on synthetic, Miss Besilu returned to the dirt June 19 and finished second in an allowance/optional claimer. But of the two, America boasts the better credentials, with a pair of third-place finishes in the Gulfstream Park Oaks and the Mother Goose Stakes, in which she was pretty much annihilated by guess who? It looks as if the victims of Untapable had better start picking up the hardware now before they have to face The Queen of the 3-year-olds and a super bunch of 4-year-old fillies in the big money races this fall.
Rounding out the field are the intriguing Taketheodds, a lightly raced daughter of Street Sense who has won two in a row at Churchill Downs and looks to be blossoming at the right time for trainer Ian Wilkes, and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Courageous Julie, who seems to be rounding into form in allowance company after a lackluster spring competing in stakes.
The Coaching Club American Oaks will be televised on "The Jockey Club Tour on FOX" program Sunday from 5:30-7:30 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports 1. The tentative post time for the grade I event, race 10 on the Sunday program, is 6:04 p.m. EDT.