Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens will flip-flop his two top fillies in this Saturday's two filly and mare stakes at Belmont Park. Jerkens will send the grade I-winning sprinter Shine Again in the 1 1/16-mile Ruffian Handicap and her younger half-sister Shiny Band, winner of the one-mile Shuvee Handicap, in the six-furlong Floral Park Handicap.
The 5-year-old Shine Again, owned and bred by Mrs. Richard C. DuPont, is coming off her second straight victory in the grade I, seven-furlong I Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga, in which she ran down Raging Fever and Mandy's Gold.
Although 21 of her 24 career starts have come in sprints, the daughter of Wild Again, out of Shiner did win the 1 1/16-mile Geisha Handicap at Pimlico last year, and placed in the 1 1/16-mile Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup and one-mile Noble Damsel Handicap.
"The reason we're trying the distance race is that she's been rating much better than she used to," Jerkens said on a national teleconference Tuesday. "She's very good right now and it would be something if she could pull this off. She's not quite fast enough to be considered for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and she'd have to run real big on Saturday for us to even consider the Distaff."
Shine Again has won 11 of her 24 starts for earnings of $856,720, while winning or placing in 11 stakes. In the Ruffian, she will take on the always tough Raging Fever, whose best races have come sprinting, and the multiple grade I winner You, who scored impressive victories in the Test and Acorn Stakes after registering several grade I wins in California. While 1 1/4 miles was too far for her in the Alabama, the one-turn 1 1/16 miles of the Ruffian should be right up her alley.
Shiny Band, a 4-year-old daughter of Dixieland Band, captured this year's one-mile Shuvee Handicap by 2 3/4 lengths over Raging Fever and Victory Ride, but has disappointed in her four subsequent starts, two of them at 1 1/8 miles and another at 1 1/16 miles.
"We thought Shiny Band might get better than Shine Again, but we were wrong," Jerkens said. "Shiny Band has won at a mile, but hasn't done it since, which is why we're running in the Floral Park. Her mother was very speedy, but had bad wind. Earlier in her career, she won several allowance sprints and broke her maiden going six furlongs in fast time."