Whatever the reason for the short field in today’s Grade III Schuylerville at Saratoga Race Course, trainer Gary Contessa isn’t complaining.
Whether it’s because of a 2-year-old crop not yet ready for graded company or because Todd Pletcher’s entry, Fashion Alert, proved she is definitely ready her first time out last month at Belmont, the six-furlong run for 2-year-old fillies drew just five horses as the first stakes of this year’s meet.
Regardless, this is where Contessa wanted to point Evrybdymstgetstonz for owners McConnell Racing Stable and Darlene Bilinski after the daughter of Bustin Stones won a 5 1⁄2-furlong maiden special weight by six lengths on July 2 at Belmont.
“The minute she crossed the wire, the owner and I looked at each other and said, ‘Schuylerville,’ ” Contessa said. “She’s a New York-bred, so she’s eligible for the stakes at Finger Lakes, she’s eligible for the stakes here at the end of the month, but we both said, ‘Schuylerville.’ Then all week long, they’ve been saying it’s a five-horse field. I was thinking, ‘Is that possible?’ Every time they announce we only have five horses for the Schuylerville, 10 more show up, so I didn’t think it was going to happen.”
The Schuylerville will go off early on the card, the third race of the day.
Evrybdymstgetstonz, 12-1 on the morning line, wants the lead, but it will be interesting to see if she gets it today against some good competition. Fashion Alert, ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, is the 3-5 favorite after winning by 4 3⁄4 lengths June 14 at Belmont in the Astoria, leading most of the way and finishing the 51⁄2 furlongs in 1:04.01.
The second choice at 5-2, Tulira’s Star won her first time out in a maiden special weight at Arlington Park on June 8, covering the 4 1⁄2 furlongs of Polytrack in 52.36. D. Wayne Lukas trains the 6-1 third choice, Take Charge Brandi, also a first-time winner at 4 1⁄2 furlongs, finishing in 52.26 at Churchill Downs on June 22.
The field is rounded out by 20-1 Mast Cove, who won June 4 at Delmar in her third start.
Evrybdymstgetstonz wasn’t as fast as some of her rivals, covering her 5 1⁄2 furlongs in 1:05.58, but she pulled away under a hand ride by Rosario Montanez and was only as race-ready as some of the 2-year-olds who may be skipping the Schuylerville.
“I lead a horse over there the first time out, whether they’re a 2-year-old, 3-year-old, whatever, about 75 percent ready,” Contessa said. “I want more left in the tank for improvement. So the ones that win are really good horses.”
That and her work ethic have him pretty excited about her. If she doesn’t impress today, he can always drop her back into state-bred stakes and expect good things, but first he wanted to take a shot at open company.
More than her first competitive trip, Contessa has been pleased with the way Evrybdymstgetstonz approaches each of her works.
“When my kids went through kindergarten, they always invited the father in for one day,” Contessa said. “You go into that kindergarten class, and all the girls are sitting at their desks, watching intently and listening, and all the boys are doing all the things they’re not supposed to be doing. She’s that intent kid who is listening and absorbing, and she’s always been a fantastic learner. Everything she did, she did with enthusiasm. Every time I worked her, she worked with enthusiasm. Every time I brought her to the gate, she broke out with enthusiasm.
“If you’re training big horses like Pletcher, and you get a horse with her attitude by Indian Charlie or Bernardini, you’re saying, ‘Oh, my gosh, what have we got here?’ She’s by Bustin Stones, but that sire is throwing runners. He’s a great sire. All his offspring come out with that intensity, and they all seem to be runners. She’s got it mentally.”
BROWN’S FIRST SHOT
Mechanicville’s Chad Brown’s first entry of the meet is Storming Inti in the $100,000 Sir Cat in the ninth race, a mile turf race for 3-year-olds who have not won a graded turf stakes. Storming Inti is the 9-5 second choice behind Bill Mott’s 8-5 Tourist. Third-choice Cabo Cat is 1-2-0 from his last three starts.
They will have some notable competition from 10-1 Ring Weekend, a Preakness runner who was pulled up and walked off before the finish of the second leg of the Triple Crown. Another Preakness runner, Pablo Del Monte, is entered as a main-track-only runner for the Sir Cat.
Tourist has won his last two times out since switching to turf, the last time by 53⁄4 lengths over a mile. Storming Inti won his last three races as a 2-year-old and is 1-1-2 from five starts this year, including a second by a neck in the Grade II American Turf at Churchill Downs on May 3.