SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Speed is always dangerous in racing, more so in handicap races if the speed horse gets significant weight from the competition.
Those variables could be in play Saturday when the speedy Sassy Little Lila takes on the boys in the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap going a mile at Saratoga.
Sassy Little Lila, twice Grade 1-placed but yet to win a stakes, was assigned 112 pounds by the racing secretary. She gets nine pounds from American Patriot and World Approval, the two Grade 1 winners in the field who were both assigned 121. Time Test (120), Ballagh Rocks (119), and Disco Partner (119) are the others expected when entries close and post positions are assigned Wednesday.
"The distance, the Grade 1 status, and, I think, the inner turf play a role in the decision," said trainer Brad Cox, who believes the inner turf course is speed-favoring.
Sassy Little Lila has finished second in two Grade 1 stakes, most recently in the Just a Game, where she was beaten by Antonoe.
Sassy Little Lila was entered in, but scratched from, last Saturday's $100,000 De La Rose Stakes against fillies and mares. Instead, Sassy Little Lila worked four furlongs in 48.86 seconds over the Oklahoma turf course. She got her final quarter in 23.69 seconds.
"She came out of her breeze in great order," Cox said. "She's bright, fresh, looks well; we'll definitely enter and take a look."
Luis Saez is the regular rider of Sassy Little Lila and typically tacks 113 pounds. Saez said Monday that he's confident he can do 112 on Saturday.