Pompeii, earning her first grade I score, defeated Beautiful Pleasure and six others in the 10-furlong Personal Ensign at Saratoga. The four-year-old Broad Brush filly, conditioned by John Kimmel, sat second behind the 1999 champion older female and outkicked her down the lane, stopping the timer in 2:04.60 over the 'fast' track. Pompeii was bred in Kentucky by Robert and Albert Clay, and races in Robert Clay and the WinStar Farm name.
Beautiful Pleasure, who had captured the previous two runnings of the Personal Ensign but hadn't won in four tries since last year's edition, had things her own way for most of the race. Setting moderate fractions of :49 and 1:13.40 on a lonely lead, the John Ward trainee moved into the final turn clear of the field. But as is her habit, she swung very wide around the bend turning for home, allowing Pompeii and rider Richard Migliore to save considerable ground and take the lead in upper stretch.
Beautiful Pleasure tried hard to re-rally under Jorge Chavez, but finished up one length behind the winner. Irving's Baby was third.
"I wanted to get her in a good rhythm and I didn't want to be on the outside because I knew about the other mare," Migliore said. "Pompeii's just a beautiful, hickory little filly. She's honest and has gotten stronger and more mature as she's gone along."
Pompeii, the 7/2 third choice in the $400,000 race, paid $9.60, $3.80, and $3.10. Beautiful Pleasure, the 2-1 favorite, returned $4.30 and $3.20. Irving's Baby paid $4.30 for the show. The $2 exacta returned $49.80.
Saddled by John Kimmel in the Personal Ensign, Pompeii will now be trained by Elliott Walden after being sold privately to WinStar Farm,. Her record now stands at 8-6-1 from 16 starts, and earnings of $616,426, including her $240,000 cut from the Personal Ensign.
"There are a lot of emotions involved," Kimmel said. "We put a lot of time into the horses. You see them develop and mature. She's a prime example of how you shouldn't access your horse too soon when they're young because they change and can get better. She's the model of a horse that can do that. It's hard to see her leave, but business is business in this game. I hope she continues her success with her new owners. Hopefully, she'll go on to bigger and better things. But now, she'll be on the other side. And, hopefully, I can find something to go after her."
"I thought Beautiful Pleasure was the dictating speed," Kimmel said. "I told Richie (Migliore), `I didn't think Irving's Baby's speed was that legitimate. I thought we would be in front of Irving's Baby. I told him to save a little ground in the first turn and to take it from there. Beautiful Pleasure gets out, so don't try to go outside of her --make your run inside'. You could see (Jorge) Chavez was having trouble with Beautiful Pleasure on the first turn and on the backside. That's one of her quirks, and we took advantage of it. I was very happy with where we were and that the late runners were at a disadvantage."
"I was always confident," said Migliore. "I had great position the whole race. It's really good when the trainer and the jockey are on the same page. When we were going into the first turn, I knew the pace was moderate because Beautiful Pleasure wasn't getting out that bad. She only gets out when she run real fast. Turning for home, I had enough room, but I figured Beautiful Pleasure would go wider. I'm very happy for Mr.(Robert) Clay."
Beautiful Pleasure never switched to her right lead in the lane, but trainer John Ward Jr. was far from discouraged by her effort.
"She came off the turn a little bit wide, and probably gave up about two and a half lengths," Ward said. "That cost us the race. Pompeii gained a tactical advantage coming off the turn. I guess we'll have to go home and see how she measures up on the scale. She's back to the level she should be at. Jorge (Chavez) did a nice job of getting her to relax. Her drifting out was no fault of his. She was much more mentally relaxed today. She should get a lot of this. "