The Brock Talk

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's Tricky To Rock A Rhyme Right On Time And Win A Tiara Too, It's Tricky...

Like the Run-DMC song of the same title says, “It’s tricky to rock a rhyme that’s right on time. It’s Tricky.” For the 3-year-old thoroughbred filly by the same name, It’s Tricky will have to rock a rhyme that’s right on time in $500,000 TVG Alabama Stakes (gr. 1) at Saratoga Saturday.

Should It’s Tricky be right on time and win the Alabama, she may not reach the popularity and influence of the hip-hop group made up of Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniel and Jason “Jam-Master” Jay, but has every opportunity to become legendary. Following in the hoof-steps of recent female super stars Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta and now Blind Luck to a degree, “legendary” is a term that has been defined with some clarity and should not be applied without serious consideration. A Triple Tiara for It's Tricky put her in a select group indeed.

There have been only six fillies that have won the Acorn Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama Stakes, the grade 1 series of races that have made up the Triple Tiara since 2010.

The first filly to sweep all three races was Top Flight in 1932 and the last was Sky Beauty 18 years ago. Between those two, Damaged Goods won the three races in 1940 followed by Shuvee (‘69), Mom’s Command (’85) and Open Mind (’89).

Between 1957-2002 and 2007-2009 New York’s Triple Tiara was made up of the Acorn, Mother Goose Stakes (gr. 1) and Coaching Club American Oaks. Between 2003-2006 the Triple Tiara was changed to the Mother Goose, Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama before changing again to the current format in 2010. Sky Beauty, Open Mind, Mom’s Command and Shuvee won their Triple Tiaras made up of the Acorn, Mother Goose and Coaching Club before also winning the Alabama. Dark Mirage (1968), Chris Evert (’74) Ruffian (’75) and Davona Dale (’79) won the Triple Tiara, but not the Alabama.

Confusing as it may seem, it is clear that It’s Tricky has an opportunity to step into an awfully select sorority of thoroughbred sisters. It is not as if It’s Tricky has drawn into an easy lot either. In the Alamaba, the daughter of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft will meet the winners of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. 1), Delaware Oaks (gr. 2), Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. 2), Canada’s $1 million Queen’s Plate and Monmouth Park's Desert Vixen Stakes.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin told the NYRA public relations department, “You always worry about that, but being there aren’t too many new faces in [in the TVG Alabama], it seems like it might be the same race shape and participants. The extra eighth of a mile should be a big deal either.”

Trainer Bob Baffert won the Alabama in 1999 with Silverbulletday and would like to repeat with this year's Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty. After finishing second to It’s Tricky in a Coaching Club American Oaks that saw the two fillies race within a few strides of each other from the start, Baffert is hoping for a fresher filly in the Alabama. This time Baffert has left the Medaglia d’Oro filly in New York instead of returning her to his base in Southern California. After her win in Kentucky, she was flown back to Southern California where she subsequently finished second in the Hollywood Oaks before returning east for the Coaching Club.

Last year, Blind Luck and Havre de Grace invaded Saratoga from the Delaware Oaks to finish one-two in the Alabama. This year, St. John’s River hopes to employ the same success after winning the 2011 version of the Delaware Oaks July 9. Humbly-bred by the $7,500 stallion Include, St. John’s River is no stranger to this group having finished second to Plum Pretty in the Kentucky Oaks. Trained by long-time Louisiana stalwart Andrew Leggio Jr., the stretch running St. John’s River is also hoping to employ the same winning come-from-behind strategy that Blind Luck incorporated last year in the Alabama.

There is much that can be achieved in this TVG Alabama Stakes Saturday. After winning two of the most prestigious North American races for three-year-old fillies, It’s Tricky has a chance to join only six other fillies that have swept New York’s prestigious Triple Tiara in its current format. For It’s Tricky, the Alabama is a defining race that puts her on a pedestal on which few have stood. Greats such as Shuvee, Mom’s Command and Open Mind are set to welcome It’s Tricky into their club. An accomplished group of foes and of course the ghosts that have defined Saratoga and the “Graveyard of Favorites” loom ahead of the young starlet.

But as the song goes...

This speech is my recital, I think it’s very vital
To rock (a rhyme), that right (on time)
It’s Tricky is the title, here we go…

--It's Tricky
--Run D.M.C.

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