The Grade I Spinaway will have a strong George Steinbrenner connection today at Saratoga Race Course.
Besides being named in memory of the late New York Yankees owner, the 2-year-old filly Georgie’s Angel is by Wood Memorial winner Bellamy Road, one of Steinbrenner’s favorite horses during his decades as an owner under the banner Kinsman Stable.
On top of that, Georgie’s Angel broke her maiden on Steinbrenner’s birthday, July 4, at Churchill Downs.
In fact, trainer Todd Pletcher’s publicist, Kelly Summers Wietsma, received a fax with information about some yearling sales prospects last year on the day Steinbrenner died, and she spotted the Bellamy Road among them.
A Yankees fan, she passed the information on to Pletcher.
“Todd said it was difficult without having seen her, but she looked OK on paper,” Wietsma told the New York Racing Association. “I wanted to name her in honor of George.”
Georgie’s Angel followed up her maiden win at Churchills by taking the Grade III Schulerville by 11⁄2 lengths over True Feelings on opening day.
“Based on her pedigree and the way she’s training, we don’t believe seven furlongs will be an issue,” Pletcher said. “She ran a very professional race. We were concerned coming back off short rest at Churchill. Now, we’ve got good spacing.”
Georgie’s Angel is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Spinaway against eight rivals, including True Feelings.
The field also includes Judy the Beauty, who is undefeated in three starts.
She’ll get her first start on conventional dirt, having broken her maiden at Keeneland, traveled to France to win at Chantilly and won the Shady Well at Woodbine.
Also on the card, in the ninth race, Brilliant Speed will return to the grass after having taken a run at the Triple Crown series.
After five straight turf starts, Brilliant Speed won the Grade I Blue Grass on the synthetic at Keeneland, launching a run at the 3-year-old classics.
He was seventh in the Kentucky Derby and and third in the Belmont Stakes, and was considered a Travers candidate who ran in the Jim Dandy, but was fifth, 101⁄2 lengths behind Stay Thirsty.
“I thought he gave up a little too easily in the Jim Dandy,” trainer Tom Albertrani said. “At the half-mile pole, he looked ready to pounce on them, and then he flattened out. He came out of the race extremely well, as if he didn’t really try. It seemed like he didn’t care for the racetrack that day.
“We want to leave our options open. I thought this was a good spot to bring him back in, and I think he could be tough in here.”
Another colt trained by Albertrani who had been on the Triple Crown trail is King Congie, owned in part by Roger and Joyce Locks of Saratoga Springs through West Point Thoroughbreds.
He was third to Brilliant Speed by a head in the Blue Grass and seventh in the Preakness. He got back on the turf with a sixth to Air Support in the Virginia Derby.