Dubai Escapade Tries to Rebound in Ballerina

(from Saratoga report)
With some fast horses and a little luck, Sunday's $250,000 Ballerina Breeders' Cup (gr. I) may cap an embarrassment of riches weekend for Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Darley Stables.

Leading the Darley charge, of course, is their homebred Bernardini, the prohibitive favorite in Saturday's 137th Travers presented by New York Lottery. Then on Sunday, Dubai Escapade, a filly Maktoum paid $2 million for, goes for her first grade I victory in the Ballerina.

Only six fillies and mares will oppose Dubai Escapade in the seven-furlong Ballerina. Dubai Escapade, a filly by Awesome Again , carries co-highweight of 122 pounds with Malibu Mint. She is the 9-5 morning line favorite.

From January to June Dubai Escapade rattled off four straight victories at three different tracks. In April, she simply ran away from eight rivals to win Keeneland's Madison (gr. II). She was even better in Belmont Vagrancy in June (gr. II), as she outran the fleet-footed Smokey Glacken early and opened up at will to win by six lengths.

Then Dubai Escapade beat just one horse in Calder's Princess Rooney (gr. I) July 15. The 1-5 favorite, she chased the pace, made a mild bid for the lead turning for home, then hit the brakes. She was beaten close to 10 lengths by Ballerina foe Malibu Mint.

"It just wasn't her day," said trainer Eoin Harty. "A lot of horses that shipped into Calder did not run well that day. We went over her and didn't find anything. She just didn't run her race."

Harty backed off Dubai Escapade in the weeks following the Princess Rooney hoping to get the filly back on track for the Ballerina.

"We just gave her an easy time with some easy canters," Harty said. "I didn't work her for a couple of weeks."

Judging from her worktab, Dubai Escapade is eager to get back to the starting gate. Her final two workouts heading into the Ballerina earned bullets. Dubai Escapade most recently breezed five furlongs over the main track here Tuesday in a blazing :59.

"She works fast because that's the horse she is," Harty said. "She does things on her own. I wouldn't be running her if she weren't 100 percent. Obviously, your confidence is shaken a bit when you come into a race off a loss, but she's doing fantastic."

Malibu Mint got the better of Dubai Escapade in the Princess Rooney as she rolled home an upset winner at odds of 23-1. Those who questioned whether Malibu Mint's victory was a fluke had to be impressed with her narrow neck loss here a few weeks ago in the Honorable Miss (gr. II) Aug. 4.

"This filly has come into her own this year," trainer James Chapman said.

Malibu Mint, by Malibu Moon , closed like a wild horse in the six-furlong Honorable Miss but simply ran out of ground and lost the race by a neck to Stormy Kiss, another Ballerina entrant.

$250,000 Ballerina Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. I, Race 9, 5:20 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. High Button Shoes (KY), Eibar Coa, 117, 15/1
2. Nothing But Fun (KY), Richard Migliore, 117, 8/1
3. Stormy Kiss (ARG), Javier Castellano, 119, 7/2
4. Dubai Escapade (KY), Edgar S. Prado, 122, 9/5
5. Malibu Mint (KY), Garrett K. Gomez, 122, 3/1
6. Grecian Lover (FL), John R. Velazquez, 115, 10/1
7. Indian Flare (KY), Rafael Bejarano, 115, 6/1