- Associated Press - Saturday, August 16, 2014

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) - Stopchargingmaria swept to the lead in mid-stretch, edged clear of long-shot Miss Besilu and held off late-running Joint Return to win the 134th $600,000 Alabama by three-quarters of a length Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

Ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, the 3-year-old daughter of Tale of the Cat ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:05.14 and paid $4, $3.20 and $2.70 as the even-money favorite in a field of nine sophomore fillies.

Joint Return, at 24-1, came flying late to get second, returning $12.80 and $7, while 30-1 Miss Besilu paid $8.50 to show. Fortune Pearl, Got Lucky, America, Catch My Drift, Unbridled Forever and Size completed the field.

Owned by Mike Repole, Stopchargingmaria won for the third time in four lifetime starts at Saratoga and second in a Grade 1 stakes at the meet, having captured the Coaching Club American Oaks July 20. She earned $360,000 for the Alabama, pushing her career bankroll to $1,414,000.

In Saturday’s co-feature, favored Crown Queen ran her win streak to three races with a half-length victory in the Grade 2, $300,000 Knob Creek Lake Placid for 3-year-old fillies on the grass.

Making her stakes debut in her fifth career start, the daughter of Smart Strike rallied in deep stretch past long shot pacesetter Duff One and a stubborn Xcellence on the inside to hit the wire in 1:47.91 for 1 1/8 miles.

With Velazquez in the irons for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, Crown Queen paid $4.50 and $3.40. Duff One held on for second, a head in front of Xcellence, and returned $5.60. There was no show wagering after the field was reduced to four horses by scratches.

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