Monday, August 15, 2011

Will winning tide continue for Inglorious in Alabama?

Inglorious, bred in Ontario by Arosa Farms, will have a chance to prove the depth of her talent in Saturday’s Grade One Alabama Stakes at Saratoga. The Hennessy-Noble Strike filly has proven to be a dominant figure in Canada’s restricted classic races by winning both the Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate.

Jockey Luis Contreras applauds Inglorious

Her last two races have been nothing short of spectacular. Inglorious defeated her own kind over a mile and an eighth in the Oaks on June 5, and had enough left in the tank to come back three weeks later and beat the boys in a 17-horse field over ten furlongs in the Plate on June 26.

Inglorious wins the Queen's Plate

Yes, these were restricted races, but the Donver Stables charge passed both tests convincingly. With her Plate victory, she is the only filly in the Alabama field to have defeated males and the only filly to race at the Alabama’s mile and a quarter distance.

Prior to her classic double at Woodbine, Inglorious competed in three open events this season winning one, the La Lorgnette at Woodbine on May 15, and finishing second and fourth in a pair of graded events at the Fair Grounds - - she was second in the G3 Rachel Alexandra won by Kathmanblu on February 19, and a troubled fourth in the G2 Fair Ground Oaks won by Daisy Devine on March 26.

Inglorious finishes second in the Rachel Alexandra

It has been a busy campaign for the young Josie Carroll trainee, and the conditioner is unwavering when asked if she has any regrets about not continuing on with a run at the Canadian Triple Crown.

“None. You try and do what’s best for the horse. She’s done everything she’s been asked to do so far. She had quite a few races close together and I feel she needed that time off if she was going to come back with her best race again,” advised Carroll on Sunday afternoon at Woodbine.

At the moment, the field for the Alabama is shaping up as a who’s who of top North American fillies including It's Tricky, Royal Delta, Pinch Pie, Plum Pretty and St John's River.

Plum Pretty was a convincing winner of the G1 Kentucky Oaks on May 6 at Churchill Downs, recovering from a poor start to defeat St John’s River by a head. Since then, Plum Pretty traveled to Hollywood Park where she finished second to well-regarded Zazu in the G2 Hollywood Oaks on June 25. In her most recent effort, she finished a game second to It’s Tricky in the Coaching Club American Oaks on July 23 at Saratoga.

Plum Pretty wins the Kentucky Oaks

It’s Tricky knocked off Turbulent Descent on a muddy track at Belmont to win the G1 Acorn at Belmont on June 11, and followed that up with a driving effort to defeat Plum Pretty and Royal Delta in the CCA Oaks.

It's Tricky defeats Plum Pretty in the CCA Oaks

St John’s River, a horse that was two and a quarter lengths the better of Inglorious when second in the Fair Ground Oaks, followed that performance up with a second place effort in the Kentucky Oaks and a deep-closing victory in the G2 Delaware Oaks on July 9.

St. John's River wins the Delaware Oaks

Carroll, and her owners, relish an opportunity to measure up against the best of her kind in an open event.

“The owners would really like to see what kind of filly we have on the North American stage,” said Carroll. “We’ve run with Kathmanblu and St. John’s River. I thought we stacked up well with them at the Fair Grounds and I think she’s a better filly now than she was then.”

Inglorious, who has made five starts in 2011, has left the gate a comparable number of times as her expected six competitors. Plum Pretty has made six starts this year, while It’s Tricky (5), St John’s River (5), Pinch Pie (4), and Royal Delta (4) are in a similar range.

Carroll, however, believes her filly has improved off of her on-track learning
experiences and is a better horse than the one that appeared at the Fair Grounds.

“She’s a more seasoned filly,” said Carroll, adding, “We went down there off two lifetime races to run in those stakes. The Alabama will be a tough field. A genuine bunch of horses, but it’s a Grade One, and that’s what you’d expect. She’s more seasoned and I think that matters in these money races.”

Kathmanblu, who defeated Inglorious in February, had the benefit of six lifetime starts going into the Rachel Alexandra. Kathmanblu, although nominated for the Alabama, is more likely to start in the Lake Placid, on the Saratoga turf, on August 21.

Will Contreras raise a victorious arm on Saturday?

Inglorious, however, will have a chance to avenge her winter defeats if she can get the better of St. John’s River. Carroll’s filly has trained forwardly into the Alabama and notched an impressive bullet work in her final prep breezing four furlongs in :47.40 over the Woodbine Polytrack.

“She always works just the way you ask her to. She’s pretty uncomplicated,” smiled Carroll. “She galloped out well. Came home well. Basically, her pre-race routine.”

Inglorious will ship to Saratoga on Tuesday afternoon.

“She’ll get a couple days galloping on the track. That’s all she’ll need,” said Carroll. “It’s not like we needed to gallop her on the dirt. She’s run on it twice at the Fair Grounds. She spent all winter on the dirt and got across it fine.”

Inglorious loves her work

Carroll has prepared her filly to the best of her abundant abilities. Inglorious was allowed to rest following her two classic victories and has worked five times since the Plate preparing for the Alabama. With all of her pre-race check marks in place, Carroll asks only for help with one variable.

“I would hope for a fair racetrack. I know sometimes when it rains down there the track has gotten a little speed favouring when there’s a bit of moisture in it,” said Carroll. “I just hope we have a fair surface so that she can do what she likes to do, which is relax and finish.”

Inglorious relaxes outside Josie Carroll's barn

(Video courtesy of Mr. Will W)

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