Two Sleepers Ready for the 2018 Alabama Stakes

2018 Alabama Stakes Notes

Piedi Bianchi will take a major step up on Saturday as she gets set to make her second start of the year in the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama for 3-year-old fillies, said trainer Todd Pletcher on Thursday.

Owned by Nice Guys Stables, Madaket Stables, Jack Bick, and Jay Oringer, the Indiana-bred filly by Overanalyze was originally entered in the Indiana First Lady for state-breds at Indiana Grand on Wednesday as well as Thursday’s eighth race at the Spa, a one-mile allowance optional claiming event, before her connections opted for the 1 ¼-mile Grade 1.

Piedi Bianchi was Grade 1-placed as a 2-year-old, finishing second to Moonshine Memories in the Del Mar Debutante, and third in the Chandelier last fall under the tutelage of California-based trainer Doug O’Neill. She closed out her year with a fifth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, where she was beaten 5 ¾ lengths by eventual champion Caledonian Road, and a third-place finish to Dream Tree in the Grade 1 Starlet in December.

She subsequently moved east, making her debut for the Pletcher barn in a six-furlong allowance race on June 24 at Belmont Park. In that effort, the gray filly raced wide and made up ground late, but couldn’t catch the top two and finished third by four lengths.

“I thought her comeback race was probably better than it looks on paper and we feel like this is a race we want to take a chance in,” said Pletcher.

“My concern is always that we’re going from one race off a layoff to a mile and a quarter,” he added. “She was one of the better 2-year-old fillies on the West Coast and she’s trained consistently well since we’ve had her, so hopefully we have her fit enough for the assignment.”

Piedi Bianchi was an $80,000 2-year-old-in-training purchase last year, and boasts $244,700 in earnings with a 1-2-3 record from seven starts. At 15-1 on the morning line, she will be ridden in the Alabama by Hall of Famer John Velazquez from the rail.

Stewart confident in homebred Alabama starter Auspicious Babe

Rock Ridge Racing’s homebred Auspicious Babe will be giving up plenty of experience to the rest of the field in Saturday’s Grade 1 Alabama at 1 ¼ miles while making just her fourth career start for trainer Dallas Stewart.

“Why not? Just five or six other horses, and a mile and a quarter,” Stewart said. “Has any of them run that far before? I think mine can. It’s a Grade 1, and it’ll make the whole family. It’s the same thing like Unbridled Forever, same thing like Lemons Forever. You win one Grade 1 and it makes the whole family. The people that have the mare, have her [Auspicious Babe]. They have a farm, why not?”

Auspicious Babe debuted on May 4 after missing her 2-year-old season due to an ankle injury. She tired after a half-mile in her unveiling and remained towards the back of the pack throughout the one-mile maiden special weight.

The bay Kentucky-bred returned 23 days later and closed from mid-pack to break her maiden by 1 ¾ lengths against seven others at 1 1/6 miles. She returned over a month later and bested another field of seven scoring by a length at the wire after sitting a close stalking trip against conditional claimers.

“She was impressive the last two races,” said Stewart. “She’s a big, strong filly and I think she can go that far [1 1/4 miles]. She won the second time and I was like, ‘Let’s try [the Alabama]. I think she can go that far.’

“It’s really worth the shot. [If] she gets beat, we’ll take her back and run her somewhere else. Regroup,” he added. “She’s just big and strong and she finishes a race. She’s finished her last three races good at Churchill, that long stretch, she took them and got it done. I feel good about her.”

Source: NYRA

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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