2022 Caress Stakes Contenders at Saratoga

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NYRA Press Release
Updated: July 20, 2022

Caravel looks to repeat in Grade 3 Caress Stakes

Caravel (Qatar Racing, Marc Detampel and Madaket Stables) will vie for a repeat victory in the Grade 3, $200,000 Caress Stakes for older fillies and mares sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on the Mellon turf at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, July 23.

Trained by Brad Cox, Caravel will attempt to become the second horse to win two editions of the Caress and the first to do so with graded status. Miss Ella won consecutive runnings as a black type stake in 2016-17 for trainer Graham Motion.

Caravel arrives from a last-out pacesetting victory in the Grade 3 Intercontinental on June 10 at Belmont Park over firm going. She led by a narrow advantage throughout the six furlongs under Tyler Gaffalione before responding to urging and widening her lead to one length at the wire in a final time of 1:07.59.

2022 Caress Stakes Field & Odds

Race 10 at Saratoga on Saturday, July 23 - Post 6:13 PM

Entry Horse Jockey Trainer
1 Caravel Tyler Gaffalione
124 Lbs
Brad Cox
2 Miss J McKay Irad Ortiz, Jr.
122 Lbs
Christophe Clement
3 Star Devine (IRE) John Velazquez
122 Lbs
Jorge Abreu
4 Bout Time Luis Saez
122 Lbs
Cherie DeVaux
5 Tobys Heart Ricardo Santana, Jr.
124 Lbs
Brian Lynch
6 Robin Sparkles Javier Castellano
122 Lbs
Bruce Brown
7 Lady Edith Trevor McCarthy
122 Lbs
Christophe Clement
8 Souper Sensational Dylan Davis
122 Lbs
Mark Casse
9 Kept Waiting Kendrick Carmouche
120 Lbs
Robert Falcone, Jr.
10 Fouette Jose Lezcano
118 Lbs
Linda Rice

"I think she showed her class at Belmont and she's continued to do well," said Cox. "She had a good run with her previous connections and we're hoping she can duplicate her effort."

The 5-year-old daughter of Mizzen Mast began her career under the care of trainer Elizabeth Merryman, who conditioned her to her victory in the Caress last year. Caravel began her career in 2020 with a trio of victories in Pennsylvania, including Presque Isle Downs' Lady Erie over synthetic, a surface she has gone a perfect 3-for-3 over. She went on to capture the The Very One at Pimlico Race Course and the Goldwood at Monmouth en route to the Caress last summer.

After securing her first graded triumph in the Caress, Bobby Flay purchased a majority interest in Caravel and transferred her to Graham Motion to close out the rest of her 4-year-old season. She earned a Grade 1 placing when third in the Highlander at Woodbine before finishing off-the-board in the Grade 3 Turf Monster at Parx Racing and the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.

After her start in the Breeders' Cup, Caravel was purchased by her current owners in November for $500,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Fall Mixed Sale and sent to Cox. She made a victorious seasonal debut in March in the Queen at Turfway Park for her first start for her new connections.

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"She's doing really well and she's set up for a good race. We picked her up in November and we gave her some time off," said Cox. "She's been pretty straightforward, and she loves to train. We've been excited about her since we got her. We ran her on the synthetic at Turfway just to get a run under her belt and it worked out well."

Caravel's only loss in three starts for Cox was a sixth-place finish against males in the Grade 2 Turf Sprint in May at Churchill Downs, an effort Cox said was admirable.

"She didn't fair very well against the boys at Churchill - I think it was more due to the course and being stuck down inside. It was actually really good, it was more just where she was on the course that day," said Cox. "But she obviously liked the Belmont turf course and up here, so hopefully we keep it going. She's cool."

Caravel will be piloted by Gaffalione from post 1.

Live Oak Plantation's Souper Sensational will make her second start over the turf for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse after finishing a game second to Boardroom in the Grade 2 Royal North last out on June 4 at Woodbine off an eight-month layoff.

Out of the Indian Charlie mare Kateri, Souper Sensational's second dam, Sue's Good News, also produced multiple stakes-winning turf sprinter Bulletin, who took the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in 2018. Casse said he considered Souper Sensational's accomplished turf relatives when deciding on the surface switch.

"We thought with her pedigree that she'd like the grass, and we were looking for a race to come back in," Casse said of the Royal North. "Grass tends to be a little kinder to them, especially off the layoff. She ran well, so I think she'll run well in the Caress."

The Curlin chestnut has won on dual surfaces, beginning her career with a pair of wins in 2020 over the Woodbine all-weather that included a four-length romp in the seven-furlong Glorious Song. She switched to dirt and picked up placings as a sophomore in the Silverbulletday and Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra before taking the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Belmont and finishing second in the Grade 1 Test and Grade 2 Prioress at the Spa.

While Souper Sensational showed early speed in her latest outing, she also has shown ability to rate when she closed from fifth-of-6 for her win in the Victory Ride. She will cut back a full furlong from the Royal North and run the shortest distance of her career, though she has shown proficiency at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.

Casse said Souper Sensational's versatility will be key to her success on Saturday.

"The distance is a little bit of a concern. She won't make the lead and there's a fair amount of speed," Casse said. "The best race she ever ran, she came from last, so she'll have to close here to be competitive. She runs well everywhere and she's an extremely talented filly."

Dylan Davis has the call from post 8.

The lightly-raced Bout Time enters the Caress in great form for trainer Cherie DeVaux, who has already collected a stakes victory at the Saratoga meeting with Tarabi in the Wilton on Opening Day. Bout Time, a 4-year-old Not This Time chestnut, will look to make the grade after blitzing to victory in the Goodwood on June 25 at Monmouth Park.

Owned by Belladonna Racing, Bout Time put in a strong performance in the Goodwood when she stalked the pace under Angel Rodriguez and showed an impressive turn-of-foot down the lane to come home in a blistering final time of 1:01.01 for the 5 1/2 furlongs and secure the win by 2 1/4 lengths.

All but one of Bout Time's starts have been over the grass, her lone dirt start a debut seventh in an off-the-turf maiden last May at Churchill Downs over a wet-fast sealed main track. She improved dramatically on the grass for the first time with a 5 1/2-length score at second asking before showing some greenness and losing by a head in her first start against winners on March 24 at Fair Grounds Race Course.

"She came out of the race at Monmouth in good order. She hasn't done anything wrong since we've gotten her on the grass sprinting," said DeVaux. "In her second start on the grass, she got a little green, and it was a bit disappointing because she acted like she was going to move forward from her impressive maiden win. She eventually did, but she showed some signs of being a lightly-raced horse. She's continued to progress since she went on turf."

Bout Time will be ridden from post 4 by Luis Saez.

The New York-bred Robin Sparkles was last seen finishing a good third behind Bout Time in the Goodwood and was third behind Caravel in this event last year for trainer Bruce Brown and owner Michael Schrader. She made a victorious return from a seven-month layoff with a one-length score in an off-the-turf rendition of the Politely on May 21 at Monmouth.

A daughter of Elusive Quality, Robin Sparkles has put together a consistent campaign that includes two stakes victories and a record of 15-8-2-3 with earnings of $420,668. She will be piloted from post 6 by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.

Rounding out the field are Miss J McKay [post 2, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], Star Devine [post 3, John Velazquez], Tobys Heart [post 5, Ricardo Santana, Jr.], Lady Edith [post 7, Trevor McCarthy], Kept Waiting [post 9, Kendrick Carmouche] and Fouette [post 10, Jose Lezcano].

The Caress is slated as Race 10 on Saturday's 11-race program, which also features the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks in Race 5. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

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Robin Sparkles returns to New York circuit in G3 Caress

Michael Shrader's Robin Sparkles will be back on the New York circuit Saturday, July 23 when she races in the Grade 3, $200,000 Caress, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for older fillies and mares at Saratoga Race Course.

Robin Sparkles, a 5-year-old Elusive Quality mare, has made quite the name for herself as a New York-bred, compiling a 15-8-2-3 record with more than $420,000 in earnings. Trainer Bruce Brown said his filly's success has been a huge uplifter for the barn.

"It's always good to have a horse like that in the barn. She always tries and is always right there," Brown said. "Those types of horses are few and far between, so whenever you have one in your barn you really need to appreciate it. It's good for the mentality of the whole barn and picks everybody's heads up."

Bruce Brown said that Robin Sparkles being a New York-bred makes it special to win, but her style also presents difficulties.

"With her, it's a little bittersweet because she's a turf sprinting New York-bred, which takes the New York-bred part out of it with no restricted New York-bred races like that, but it's always good to have a good New York-bred," Brown said, "We might be able to try and get her against New York-breds on the dirt in the future, but during turf season it's definitely her favorite surface."

Robin Sparkles finished third in both the Caress and the Smart N Fancy last year at Saratoga. Her lone Saratoga win came in her second career start back in 2020 when she wired the field in a maiden claiming turf event. This year she did not return to the track until May and has made her lone two starts at Monmouth, capturing the off-the-turf Politely at five furlongs in May and finishing third last month in the Goldwood at 5 1/2-furlongs over firm turf, finishing 3 1/2-lengths behind the victorious Bout Time.

Robin Sparkles will face Bout Time again on Saturday, but Brown said strategy is not expected to change with the speedy mare, who will be piloted by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.

"You can't really take her out of her game. The biggest thing is that Javier Castellano is going to ride her and him being able to slow her down a little bit," said Brown. "At Monmouth, they run out of that weird chute so she was always rolling to get position out of the chute so you don't get shuffled back. Hopefully here, with a straightaway down the backside, if she breaks well she can get there without using herself as much."

Brown said the addition of Castellano, who sports a ledger of 10-3-1-1 at the meet heading into Wednesday's card, will benefit Robin Sparkles.

"Just shipping around with her, we've had to get jockeys wherever we were, but now being here there's so many good riders and you can't do much better than Javier, especially in a big race," said Brown.

Brown also noted that given his filly goes back and forth to the farm between starts, he hasn't breezed Robin Sparkles extensively.

"We're just trying to keep her happy and fresh," Brown said. "We've been doing a lot of good, strong gallops with her."

Bred in New York by Hibiscus Stables, Robin Sparkles is out of the Dehere mare My Sparky.

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