'Ballerina Seeking Grade in Royal North

'Ballerina Seeking Grade in Royal North
Photo: Michael Burns
Marina Ballerina seeks her first graded win in the Royal North Stakes.
After a 3 1/4-length stakes triumph on a yielding turf course, the connections for Marina Ballerina certainly won't mind if the Woodbine lawn comes up as something less than firm for the $150,000 Royal North Stakes (Can-III) on Aug. 2.

The six-furlong event for fillies and mares drew a field of seven. With no clear-cut standout,  Robert L. Pastor's homebred Marina Ballerina could wind up favored in quest of her first graded win, especially if the turf course has some give to it. Trained by Sam Di Pasquale, the front-running 4-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Outflanker could prove difficult to catch if the conditions prove favorable. She breaks from the rail with Justin Stein aboard.

Switched from the Polytrack, where she faded in two sprint tries this  spring, Marina Ballerina scooted to a clear advantage over 10 rivals soon after the start of Woodbine's 6 1/2-furlong Repercussion July 9 and held sway for a surprisingly easy score at odds of better than 7-1.

That was not the first time Marina Ballerina had won on a turf course slowed by rain. She won the 5 1/2-furlong Trenton at Monmouth a year ago on good going. Just four of her 18 lifetimes starts have been on grass, though she has the two wins and a runner-up finish. The dark bay filly has six career victories and four seconds with earnings of $246,009.

Only one of her Royal North rivals also ran in the Repercussion. That would be the Andrew Smith trainee Becky Sharp, who finished fourth, nearly five lengths behind Marina Ballerina. Patricia Martin's 6-year-old Favorite Trick mare won her start before that, the six-furlong Zadracarta, in front-running style on firm going at 17-1 over the Woodbine sod June 15. That was one of two wins in 11 tries for Becky Sharp on the local turf course.

Akronism, a 4-year-old Not For Love filly trained by Timothy Ritchey, ships in from Delaware Park, where she ran a stubborn third after pressing the pace in the five-furlong Light Hearted Stakes July 13, her turf debut. The Robert Evans homebred won a stakes on the dirt at Pimlico May 17.

Ellis Park invader Sea the Joy won an overnight handicap July 13 going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf for trainer D. Kelly Ackerman. Eeny Meeny also enters the Royal North off a grass victory, taking a six-furlong optional claiming event at Woodbine July 6 for trainer Roger Attfield.

Half Sister, third behind Eeny Meeny last time, and Green Door, who ran second in a stakes at Mountaineer Park July 5, round out the field.

$150,000 Royal North Stakes (Can-III, Race 6, 3:35 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Marina Ballerina (FL), 117, Justin Stein
2. Sea the Joy (KY), 115, Slade Callaghan
3. Akronism (KY), 119, Eurico Rosa Da Silva
4. Becky Sharp (ON), 117, Robert C. Landry
5. Half Sister (ON), 115, Emile Ramsammy
6. Eeny Meeny (ON), 115, David Clark
7. Green Door (KY), 115, James McAleney

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