Just over three months ago, Watsdachances was arguably the best filly in her division.
She was coming off a 2-year-old year that saw her win a pair of stakes at Saratoga Race Course — the P.G. Johnson and Grade III Miss Grillo — then finish second to a French shipper in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf.
Then she ran her first couple of races as a 3-year-old.
A fourth in the Grade III Appalachian and a third in the Grade II Sands Point left something to be desired by trainer Chad Brown.
“A little disappointing,” said Brown, a Mechanicville native. “I think she entered the season from a good 2-year-old year in her class, in her age group of 2 coming into 3, the leader of her division. Then, she no longer is, after running two sub-par races. I mean, she ran OK, but she didn’t run to her capabilities. So I’m looking to get her back on track in this race.”
Brown brought her back to Saratoga in mid-June and has been training her here for today’s Grade II Lake George, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies on the turf.
“With her, we felt right after the Sands Point, that she was kind of off form a little bit,” Brown said. “Last year, what got her Breeders’ Cup campaign kicked off was shipping into Saratoga as soon as we bought the filly. She thrived up here. So we figured, let’s go back to what worked, get her back into her old stall at Saratoga where she really excelled last summer and into the fall, and see if we can kind of turn the ship around. Since she’s been here, she’s really trained well, and her coat’s come around nicely. So I’m expecting her to run her race.”
Watsdachances will be ridden by Javier Castellano, the only jockey she’s known since coming to North America from Ireland, where she was 1-0-1 from her first two career starts.
She will break from the rail and face six rivals, including 2-1 morning-line favorite Tapicat, who will break from just outside her. The second-choice is 5-2 Kitten’s Dumplings, and Watsdachances is the third-choice at 4-1.
Tapicat was third her first time out last October at Belmont Park in a six-furlong race on dirt, then switched to turf and is undefeated in three starts under jockey Joel Rosario on the grass, including the Grade III Florida Oaks in her last.
Rosario, though, will ride Kitten’s Dumplings for trainer Michael Maker. Mike Smith inherits the ride aboard Tapicat for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
Kitten’s Dumplings has won her last two under Rosario — the $173,000 Edgewood and the Grade III Regret, both at Churchill Downs.
A pair of undefeated fillies grace the field — 3-for-3 Maximova and 2-for-2 Blossom’s Trail. Midnight Watch has won her last two, both in May at Belmont. Fab Flowers rounds out the field as the 20-1 long shot, third in her last two starts and second three back.
Main-track-only entry Skyfall also is entered for trainer Todd Pletcher, and is 2-for-2 on sloppy tracks, including her first time out at Saratoga last year.
Looking at the race on Monday, keeping the forecast in mind, Brown said he wouldn’t mind a little rain, as long as it didn’t force the race off the grass.
“She would probably appreciate some give in the ground,” Brown said. “I’m not making any excuses, because she can run on firm, like she did in the Breeders’ Cup. But we’re looking at rain, maybe, Tuesday. That should provide some cut in the ground on Wednesday. Obviously, she’s run well on soft ground, as well, both in Europe and last year in the Miss Grillo. So, that won’t hurt us at all.
“I’ve got a nice cozy post on the inside, Javier knows the filly well. The pace setup looks good; there’s plenty of speed in the race. I like my chances.”