Beautiful Pleasure Will Race in 2001
Photo: Associated Press / NYRA / Adam Coglianese
Beautiful Pleasure, with Jorge Chavez in the irons, wins the Personal Ensign Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga. Heritage of Gold is in the background.
By Steve Haskin and Kristin Ingwell
After lengthy discussions between trainers John and Donna Ward and owner John Oxley, it has been decided Beautiful Pleasure will race another year. The 1999 champion older mare has been training steadily at Palm Beach Downs since Dec. 20. On Feb. 28 she breezed five furlongs in 1:01, and galloped out seven-eighths in 1:27. Oxley said the year's goal is the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Belmont Park. She has not started since the 2000 edition of the race where she finished sixth.

Donna Ward, who has been in charge of Beautiful Pleasure's training since she was a 2-year-old, said the 6-year-old daughter of Maudlin probably is a month away from a race. She'll return to the Wards' farm across the road from Keeneland on April 1 to continue her training.

"We're really excited about racing her this year," she said. "Now that the decision has been made, I'll sit down and map out a schedule for her. She's still a little on the fat side, but it's beginning to come off. Mr. Oxley took a long time before making the final decision. I told him it's his decision whether he wants to give up a year in the breeding shed, and that we were just about ready to pass the point of no return. He said as long as she's still the same quality mare she's always been, he'd like to see her run. She's sound and bright and still seems interested in racing."

"We've really addressed this very carefully," Oxley said. "In the words of both the vet and the trainers, 'she appears to be as good as she's ever been,' and in view of that advice and information, I could only reach the conclusion it's fair to give her a chance to go on." He also cited the opportunity to "give the racing world a chance to see a mare that they love and a mare that has the chance to continue to be a superstar for another year," as factors in his decision.

Oxley said Beautiful Pleasure's first race has not yet been picked, but it will probably be during Keeneland's April meet. He listed the Aug. 24 Personal Ensign (gr. I) at Saratoga and the Oct. 6 Beldame (gr. I) at Belmont Park as possibilities, but said nothing is definite at this point. Beautiful Pleasure won those races in 1999 en route to her win in the Breeders' Cup Distaff and title as champion older mare.

"We want to do the right thing for her and wouldn't even think about racing her unless she was 100 percent sound and at the top of her training," Oxley said.

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