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Miss Shop scores an upset in the Personal Ensign.
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Miss Shop Bargain Winner of Personal Ensign

A patient ride from Javier Castellano helped Miss Shop to her first grade I victory with an impressive upset in the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga Aug. 24.

A patient ride from Javier Castellano helped Miss Shop to her first grade I victory with an impressive upset in the Personal Ensign Stakes (VIDEO) at Saratoga Aug. 24.

Miss Shop, who went over the $1-million mark in lifetime earnings, saw all the heels during much of the 1 1/4-mile event for fillies and mares as she lagged behind a solid pace. But the 4-year-old daughter of Deputy Minister gained ground steadily as the field reached the quarter pole while racing four wide. She sustained her long drive to surge past favored Unbridled Belle and Indian Vale leaving the eighth pole. Miss Shop won going away by three lengths in a time of 2:03 2/5.

Allen Jerkens trains the winner. The little bay filly Miss Shop was helped out by her stablemate Teammate, who pressed the pacesetter Sugar Shake for the opening six furlongs.

The Hobeau Farm, Florida, homebred Miss Shop, out of the Private Account mare Shopping, ran second in her most recent start when she finished six lengths behind the red-hot Ginger Punch in the Go For Wand Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga July 28. Her third win of 2007 from eight starts was her first since taking Gulfstream Park's 1 1/8-mile Rampart Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park in March. This was her initial triumph in three starts at the 10-furlong distance.

“I didn’t know if she could go this far,” said Jerkens. “She has never shown that she could go that far. Javier told me the last time, `Don’t worry about her. She can get the distance.’ It’s amazing how many times she has run as a 4-year-old in this day and age.”

After carving fractions of :23 3/5, :47 3/5 and 1:11 4/5, Sugar Shake, the only grade I winner in the six-horse field, was challenged by Indian Vale and John Velazquez, who got the lead approaching the quarter pole. Indian Vale held off Miss Shop until the eighth pole.

“I was looking to lay back today,” said Castellano. “There was a lot of speed in the race. You had the speed of the outside horse (Indian Vale) and Teammate and Sugar Shake. All three horses made a good pace for me today. I was worried about the first quarter of a mile, but as soon as she relaxed for me, I was thinking that the race was over. I was worried that we passed them a little early in the stretch. But I had so much horse, and she won very good today.”

Unbridled Belle kept plugging late and won the duel for second over Indian Vale by one length.

Todd Pletcher trains both Unbridled Belle, the 8-5 choice ridden by Ramon Dominguez, and Indian Vale, who was piloted by John Velazquez. Sugar Shake, making her first start since May 19, came up well short in her return to action and finished fourth, nosing Teammate. Lila Paige trailed.

“I thought both horses ran well,” Pletcher said. “Indian Vale was parked wide and lost ground around both turns, but that was just circumstantial.”

Also adept on the turf, Miss Shop owns a 9-2-4 record in 25 starts with total earnings of $1,054,038. The victory was worth $240,000.

“Today was her best race,” Jerkens said. “She is good on firm turf or dirt. I was disappointed in a couple of her grass races. When she won the Sunshine Millions, it looked like she would be a good grass filly.

"You have to think about the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I). They say Monmouth Park doesn’t suit come-from-behind horses. I guarantee someone will come from behind some day.”

Miss Shop paid $11.40, $3.90 and $3.10. Unbridled Belle, favored off her 7 3/4-length win in the Delaware Handicap (gr. II) July 15, returned $3.10 and $2.50, completing a $37.60 exacta. Indian Vale, a multiple grade II winner, was $3.20 to show.

(Chart, Equibase)