Godolphin Stable’s Seventh Street looks to notch her third grade I win of the season and lock up a spot in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships later this season when she faces five fillies and mares in the $300,000 Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) Sept. 12 at Belmont Park.
The 1 1/16-mile Ruffian, along with the Garden City Stakes (gr. IT), headline opening weekend of the Belmont fall meet. The winner of the Ruffian receives an automatic berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) Nov. 6 at Santa Anita.
A 4-year-old daughter of Street Cry, Seventh Street has been nothing but consistent since her career began last year, finishing on the board in all eight starts. The chestnut filly has won three of five starts in 2009, including the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) in April at Oaklawn Park, and the Aug. 2 Go For Wand Handicap (gr. I) on the Saratoga slop last out. Sandwiched between those two scores was a solid runner-up finish in the Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont in her first start for Saeed bin Suroor. Kiaran McLaughlin was the previous trainer.
Seventh Street has turned in three solid works leading up to the Ruffian and will keep regular rider Rajiv Maragh. The 122-pound high weight was bred in Kentucky by Steve Barberino and is out of the Meadowlake mare Holiday Runner.
“She went through her conditions last fall, so you knew you were dealing with a quality filly,” said Rick Mettee, assistant to bin Suroor. “She came to us after the Apple Blossom, and has held her form. She’s trained good, looks well, and I expect a good run from her.”
Mettee said they “would consider” running Seventh Street in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I), but there was no guarantee they would ship her to California to run on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface. All eight of her starts have been on natural dirt.
Running as a coupled entry with Seventh Street is Darley Stable’s Skylighter, a 4-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa. Skylighter won the Allaire DuPont Distaff (gr. II) in May at Pimlico for her second grade II score. Julien Leparoux will ride for Graham Motion.
Mark Stanley’s Swift Temper may have the best shot of knocking off the powerful coupled entry. The 5-year-old mare by Giant's Causeway scored an impressive 7-1 upset in the $1 million Delaware Handicap (gr. II) July 19 when knocking off Icon Project and Unbridled Belle. Icon Project turned the tables on the chestnut last out however, as Swift Temper was runner-up by more than 13 lengths in the Aug. 30 Personal Ensign (gr. I) at the Spa. Both of the those races were at 10 furlongs.
Trained by Dale Romans, Swift Temper also won the Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne earlier this season and has earned more than $1.1 million from 28 career starts. Alan Garcia has the mount and they will break from the inside.
The other graded stakes winner in the field is Millenium Farms’ Luna Vega, a 4-year-old filly by Malibu Moon. Sixth in the Go For Wand, Luna Vega earned her first stakes win in the Aug. 30 Molly Pitcher Stakes (gr. II) last out at Monmouth Park. Shaun Bridgmohan has the riding assignment for trainer Steve Asmussen.
$300,000 Ruffian Handicap (gr. I, Race 4, 2:35 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Swift Temper (KY), A Garcia, 118 D L Romans
2. Be Fair (FL), G K Gomez, 112 D W Lukas
3. Exotic Indy (KY), J R Velazquez, 114 G T Forster
4. Seventh Street (KY), R Maragh, 122 S bin Suroor
5. Luna Vega (KY), S Bridgmohan, 116 S M Asmussen
6. Skylighter (KY), J R Leparoux, 116 H G Motion