(Our Flash Drive / Photo by Janet Garaguso & Courtesy of NYRA)
Live Oak Plantation’s Florida homebred Our Flash Drive brings a three-race win streak into Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Caress, a 5 1/2-furlong Mellon turf sprint for older fillies and mares, at Saratoga Race Course.
The 5-year-old Ghostzapper mare made 10 consecutive starts at a distance of one-mile or more before Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse entered the talented bay in the Grade 2 Bessarabian, a seven-furlong Tapeta sprint in November at Woodbine Racetrack.
Our Flash Drive responded with a powerful performance, sweeping past her rivals to romp by 5 3/4-lengths. She followed with two more wins at the Etobicoke, Ontario oval, taking the Grade 3 Whimsical in May traveling six furlongs over Tapeta and the Grade 2 Royal North last out on June 3 at 6 1/2-furlongs over turf.
“I made the decision toward the latter part of last year to sprint her and she ran really well,” Casse said. “She’s won her last three in graded stakes sprinting. I’m a little concerned the Caress is a tad short for her, but we’ll see.”
Our Flash Drive has won 7-of-16 starts, including a one-length score in last year’s restricted one-mile De La Rose over firm Spa turf.
Dylan Davis has the call from the inside post.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will be represented by a pair of graded-stakes winners in Poppy Flower [post 4, Jose Ortiz] and Wakanaka [post 5, Junior Alvarado].
Arnmore Thoroughbreds’ Poppy Flower made the grade last out with a rallying nose score over returning rival Bubble Rock in the six-furlong Grade 3 Intercontinental on June 9 at Belmont Park.
The 4-year-old Lea chestnut exited the inside post under Jose Ortiz and settled in sixth position as Bubble Rock dictated terms. A patient Ortiz tipped Poppy Flower out for the stretch run, found a seam, and arrived in the final strides to secure the win and garner a career-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure.
Poppy Flower sports a ledger of 3-1-2-0 sprinting 5 1/2-furlongs over the Spa turf led by a win in last year’s Galway.
“She’s doing well,” Mott said. “She’s going to have to get going a little sooner this time.”
Team Valor International and Gary Barber’s Wakanaka made the grade in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Dance Smartly last July at Woodbine and followed two starts later with a three-quarter length win in the one-mile Fall Harvest in November at Keeneland.
The 5-year-old Power mare has kept good company in three starts this season, finishing a troubled fifth in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational in January at Gulfstream Park ahead of a fourth in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile in May at Churchill and a third in the one-mile Grade 1 Just a Game on June 9 at Belmont.
Mott said the ownership wanted to try something different with Wakanaka, who did win four turf sprints in Italy for her former conditioner Diego Dettori.
“She’s coming off a lot of mile races, but we hope she’ll do well,” Mott said.
Shortleaf Stable’s dual graded-stakes winning Kentucky homebred Bubble Rock [post 2, Flavien Prat] has proven to be a versatile athlete for trainer Brad Cox.
The 4-year-old More Than Ready dark bay captured the 2021 Grade 3 Matron sprinting six furlongs over the Belmont green and was a gate-to-wire winner of the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Mrs. Revere in November at Churchill Downs to close out her sophomore season.
Bubble Rock was a game second in her seasonal debut in April at Keeneland when a pacesetting second in a one-mile allowance, finishing a neck back of multiple graded-stakes winner Gam’s Mission. She followed with a rallying score in the six-furlong License Fee in May at Belmont before doing the hard yards on the front-end last out in the Intercontinental.
Bubble Rock has breezed back three times at Belmont, including a bullet half-mile in 47.72 over the inner turf on July 7.
“It was a good run. Unfortunately, she didn’t get there,” said Cox of the Intercontinental effort. “We keep her down at Belmont and she does really good there.
“If she gets a good setup, she’ll be tough,” Cox added. “I think she’s better around one turn than two. She’s been successful around two, but based on how she’s performed, she likes the cutback.”
Bubble Rock is out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Reef Point, who is a half-sister to the millionaire Blue Chipper – a Group 1-winner in Korea, who finished third in the 2019 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.
Rounding out a competitive field is the Christophe Clement-trained stakes-winner Roses for Debra [post 3, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], who has won 5-of-7 starts led by a score last July in the Malvern Rose, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for Pennsylvania-breds over the Presque Isle Downs synthetic.
Bank On Anna is entered for the main-track only.
The Caress is slated as Race 6 on Saturday’s 11-race card which also features the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks in Race 9. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.
Saratoga Live will present live coverage and analysis of the Saratoga Race Course summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule/.