Informed Decision, the reigning champion female sprinter, will look for her third straight win in the Ballerina Handicap (gr. I), a race that also has grade I winner Jessica Is Back in its field.
Eight have lined up to take a stab at the $250,000 Ballerina, a seven-furlong test for fillies and mares on Saratoga’s main track. The Ballerina is the first of three grade I races on a Spa program headlined by the $1 million Shadwell Travers.
Post time for the Ballerina is slated for 4:38 p.m. EDT. Saratoga will begin its 13-race card at 11:35 a.m.
Augustin Stable’s Informed Decision has righted the ship after a pair of third-place finishes to begin her 5-year-old season. The daughter of Monarchos
won the Chicago Handicap (gr. III) July 4 for the second year in a row and her seventh graded stakes score overall. Last out on July 27, she went wire-to-wire to take the Windward Stakes over the Presque Isle Downs Tapeta surface. It brought her career earnings to nearly $2 million, a figure she would surpass with an in-the-money finish in the Ballerina.
A winner of 13 of 18 lifetime starts, Informed Decision had her best season in 2009 when winning three grade I races, including the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride synthetic. One of the grade I wins that eluded her was the Ballerina, where she finished third to Music Note for her only loss in a string of nine consecutive starts.
Trainer Jonathan Sheppard will give a leg up to regular rider Julien Leparoux, who has ridden the 5-2 favorite in her last 10 races. They will break from post 4.
“I’m anxious to see how she runs here, with the Breeders’ Cup being on dirt this year,” said Sheppard. “If she runs poorly and it looks like she won’t be able to hold on to her champion status, we might try two turns or turf with her, but if she runs a really good race here, then we’d point to the Breeders’ Cup with a race or two in between.”
Informed Decision was bred in Kentucky by Dr. Chuck. Kidder and Dr. Nancy Cole, and is out of the His Majesty mare Palangana.
Farnsworth Stables’ Jessica Is Back won the first grade I of her career in her 44th start July 10 at Calder Race Course & Slots, coming from off the pace to take the Princess Rooney Handicap by two lengths. Twice claimed in her career, the 6-year-old mare was cutting back to the sprint distance for the first time since last summer in the six-furlong Rooney. She was ridden to the 8-1 upset win by Elvis Trujillo, who will be in the irons once more.
Trained by Marty Wolfson and based out of Calder, Jessica Is Back has produced a 12-13-3 mark from her 44 starts and earned $771,765. She will make her second career start at Saratoga while carrying top weight of 122 pounds.
Wolfson will also saddle Andrew Rosen’s First Passage
, who was seventh in the Rooney but has a stakes win this season.
Second in the Rooney was 4-year-old Warbling
, who has since come back to run third in the Aug. 8 Honorable Miss (gr. II) at the Spa. Earlier this year, the daughter of Unbridled's Song
won the Inside Information (gr. II) at Gulfstream for her first stakes victory. Leparoux was aboard then, but Javier Castellano will ride this time.
Other notables are Tom Walters’ Pretty Prolific
, winner of the Sugar Swirl (gr. III) in the slop this winter at Gulfstream and runner-up two starts back in the grade I Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs, also over an off track; and Zayat Stables’ Rightly So
, a Read the Footnotes
speedster who won the Bed o’ Roses Handicap (gr. III) July 5 at Belmont and is perfect in two starts at seven furlongs.
“She’s always been a talented, nicer kind of horse,” trained trainer Tony Dutrow said of Rightly So. “I thought she had earned the opportunity to run in graded company this year. She handled it, and proved in her next start that she could consistently handle it, but this is a grade I and she has not competed against Grade I horses yet.”
$250,000 Ballerina Handicap (gr. I, Race 10, 4:38 p.m.), Fillies and Mares, 7 Furlongs (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Rightly So (NY), C H Velasquez, 117, A W Dutrow
2. Warbling (KY), J Castellano, 119, E Kenneally
3. Jessica Is Back (FL), E Trujillo, 122, M D Wolfson
4. Informed Decision (KY), J R Leparoux, 119, J E Sheppard
5. Qualia (KY), R Maragh, 115, R Ribaudo
6. Pretty Prolific (KY), E S Prado, 117, K G McPeek
7. Devil by Design (KY), K J Desormeaux, 115, W I Mott
8. First Passage (KY), J V Bridgmohan, 117, M D Wolfson