The 2021 Grade 1 Alabama Stakes

The Alabama has always been one of my favorite stakes not only at the Saratoga meet, but throughout the entire year. Maybe it’s because it is a mile and a quarter compared to the Kentucky Oaks mile and an eighth, or maybe because I made a big win bet on It’s in the Air to upset Davona Dale in the race all those years ago.

Malathaat was looked at as a foregone conclusion when odds on in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks over this track when upset at the wire. Maracuja beat her that day but benefited from a perfect trip and ride while Malathaat was hounded the whole way from the rail. With Malathaat getting off the rail I think she can turn the tables on Maracuja and handle the rest of the horses coming out of the Coaching Club. It is the new faces that can pose a danger to the favorite.

Crazy Beautiful comes in off two sharp wins at Santa Anita and then Delaware. If you toss the Oaks that Malathaat won where this girl didn’t run a step after being bothered early, she looks awfully good. Jose Ortiz replaces Mike Smith which without knocking Mike at all, that is a positive move as Jose rides the Spa every day. McPeek is a chilly 1 for 22 but has a live one here with a real chance.

Will’s Secret was 26-1 in the Kentucky Oaks, and I was all in. She ran an OK third but did not break through in the much easier Indiana Oaks in her next start. Dallas Stewart who knows how to run big in tough spots at long odds sticks with veteran Jon Court who’d like nothing more than to win the Alabama at Saratoga at this late stage in his career. She’ll be overlooked in the wagering and is not all that far behind Malathaat. She is also second off the lay-off and if she gets some pace to set her up the mile and a quarter could be the equalizer. A must use in my book.

Clairiere made an early move at Malathaat in the Coaching Club and stick to her like glue as long as she could. She helped set up Maracuja but this is a different day and different race. I think she will go back to off the pace, which I think she prefers. I don’t think it will reverse the order of finish between her and the favorite.

Maracuja will get a lot more attention this time. She was the recipient of the perfect ride and trip last out. Can lightning strike twice? Probably not.

Played Hard has a nice gate to wire win over the track. I usually like this type, but I can’t get to her in this spot. She’ll be winging as long as she can, and a speed friendly track would help, but the Alabama is a long race, and she will be in against better than she has faced. Speed is always dangerous, but I think they get her even with Saez trying to reach for the wire.

Malathaat will do a lot better off the rail with a different type of trip. She deserves the respect she will be given and as I said she should turn the tables and reverse the Coaching Club finish. She’ll have to go after Playing Hard and likely makes the first move. Can she do that and hold off some new and fresh faces at a new distance? I’ll take a shot at no, at least not today.

Army Wife is on a roll for a barn that has been hot all meet. Gaffalione picks up the mount for Rosario who is at Del Mar for the Pacific Classic, and he knows this filly and rides for Maker. She has never beaten these kinds of fillies before but she’s dead game and had trouble, a lot of it when she faced Maracuja back in April.

Malathaat will be a short price again. I don’t like taking a short price unless I think the win is very likely and clear cut. As much as getting off the rail helps, I see other options in here. I will go with Crazy Beautiful and Will’s Secret and hope for some luck.

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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