It doesn’t always take a barn of 100 horses to make an impact at Saratoga. There are times when a little goes a long way. Bret Calhoun only has a few stalls at the end of barn 69, but the ones he has are filled with talent.
Side by side stand his headliners. Bahnah, a petite bay who loves attention, gave the crowd a thrill in the Grade 3 Schuylerville after a dead-heat win with Brazen Persuasion. Fiftyshadesofgold, the 7-5 favorite for today’s $200,000 Adirondack Stakes, occupies the stall next door.
Unlike a stereotypical sprinter, the grey filly is all leg, but don’t let the supermodel looks fool you. The 2-year-old speedy daughter of the Unbridled’s Song stallion My Golden Soul is an undefeated stakes winner and looks to join her stablemate with a Saratoga success in the Grade 2 Adirondack at 6 ½ furlongs.
Fiftyshadesofgold turned in a bullet work of :46.32 for a half on the main track last Sunday as a tune up for the Adirondack. The fast time concerned Calhoun a bit, but the way she did it calmed the veteran trainer.
“She’s really thriving here,” Calhoun said. “She breezed too fast last week. But she did it very easy. She looked like she was at a high gallop coming down the lane. She’s proven she handles the surface well from her gallops. That was one of my concerns coming here. She’s so big I thought the track might be a bit deep for her, but she has handled it great.”
Bred in Texas by Clarence Scharbauer Jr., a member of the Scharbauer family that raced Horse of the Year and dual classic winner Alysheba, Fiftyshadesofgold won her debut May 24 at Lone Star Park by 10 lengths and the June 22 Debutante at Churchill Downs by eight. Corey Lanerie, who rode Bahnah in the Schuylerville, gets the return call on Fiftyshadesofgold.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker send out Thank You Marylou in the Adirondack. The Birdstone filly won the Tippet Stakes in her career debut going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. Word traveled fast of the filly’s ability and she was favored for that race off a string of strong workouts at Turfway Park, but there’s much more to the story of the Virginia-bred filly Ramsey purchased as a weanling for $47,000 at the 2011 Keeneland November sale.
“Marylou and her husband John Hendrickson have been so nice to us, as a matter of fact they let us use their NetJets plan to fly a physician from California to treat my wife,” Ramsey said earlier this summer. “We’re not buddy-buddy with them, but we started getting invited to their parties and got Christmas cards after Roses in May won the Whitney. They were so nice to do that, putting that doctor on the plane and probably saving my wife’s life. Then Marylou came to see my wife at Cardinal Hill in Lexington.”
To repay the generosity, Ramsey promised to name one of his good 2-year-olds and will be doing something else for the couple very soon.
“We were at Churchill Downs and won a stakes race when they came into the Trustees Room,” Ramsey said. “They announced that they were going to breed a mare to Kitten’s Joy and I said, ‘I’ll give it to you for all you’ve done.’ And I said I’ve already got a name, too, Free Kitten.”
As for Thank You Marylou, she races on dirt for the first time off three breezes, two on the Oklahoma Training Track.
“Hopefully Marylou will be there,” Ramsey said. “I’m going to invite her to present the owner trophy to me so I can look her in the eye and say ‘Thank you Marylou.’ “
Michael Matz looks to sneak under the radar with another stakes win. Who’s In Town broke her maiden at Delaware Pak last month in a four-horse field, defeating eventual Saratoga maiden winner Con Gee.
“She won her first start pretty nicely,” Matz said. “I don’t know who she beat but the horse that was second came up here and won, so that’s encouraging. I spoke with Mr. [Richard] Golden and he said he was willing to give her a chance. It’s a tough race but she is doing well.”
Leading rider Joel Rosario gets the call on Who’s In Town, a daughter of Speightstown and the 4-1 third choice on the line.
Steve Asmussen and Winchell Thoroughbreds send out the second choice in Untapable at 3-1. The well-bred daughter of Tapit goes for her second career start after a win at Churchill in June. Rosie Napravnik, fresh off riding in the Shergar Cup jockey championship at Ascot racecourse in England Saturday, returns for the mount.
The field also includes Designer Legs, who makes her first start for Dallas Stewart off wins at Canterbury Park and Prairie Meadows, Ellis Park maiden winner Charmed Hour and Presque Isle Downs shipper Hop the Six.