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Fleet Indian wins the Personal Ensign Stakes, Friday at Saratoga.
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Fleet Indian Sneaks Away in Personal Ensign

AP Racing Writer

Fleet Indian started slowly and finished the way she usually does – in front.

After setting a slow pace (1:15 for six furlongs), Fleet Indian had plenty left to hold off Balletto for a 4 1/4 length, wire-to-wire victory in the $400,000 Personal Ensign at Saratoga Race Course on Friday.

Fleet Indian, trained by Todd Pletcher, ran her winning streak to seven in a row and confirmed her status as the leading older female.

"Sometimes you can go too slow. That was my only concern," Pletcher said. "When she got into that rhythm, Balletto put in a run but she had a lot left. I thought it was a pretty solid finish."

Fleet Indian, with Jose Santos aboard, covered the 1 1/4 miles in a 2:03.87, and returned $3.30, $2.10 and $2.10 as the 3-5 favorite in the five-horse field.

Balletto, attempting to win her first race in nearly two years, returned $2.50 and $2.10. Soul Search, another 6 3/4 lengths back, paid $2.80 to show. Yolanda B. Too was fourth, followed by India Halo.

Fleet Indian, a New York-bred daughter of Indian Charlie, is now 5-for-5 since being purchased by Paul Saylor and turned over to Pletcher in late January.

"She broke sharply like she always has done," Santos said. "She was asking me with her head to let her go. When Balletto came within a length of us, I hit her once and she kept going."

Under Pletcher, Fleet Indian reeled off wins in the Next Move Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct, the Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne, the Obeah Handicap at Delaware Park and the $1 million Delaware Handicap (gr. II) July 16 before Friday's win.

Fleet Indian earned $240,000 for her 12th win in 16 career starts and boosted her bankroll to $1,344,512.

Balletto, a leading 2-year-old filly in 2004, missed her 3-year-old season due to intestinal surgery but returned this year for trainer Tom Albertrani. She has yet to win in five starts, but has been second three times, including a nose defeat to Pletcher's Spun Sugar in the Go for Wand (gr. I) on July 30.

Jockey Javier Castellano said Friday's pace was too slow for Balletto. "I had to try to go with her (Fleet Indian), and it made me move too early," he said. "When I got to Fleet Indian, she just took off because she went so slow early."

Next up for Fleet Indian could be the 1 1/8-mile Beldame (gr. I) at Belmont on Oct. 7.

Pletcher and Albertrani will go at it again in Saturday's $1 million Travers (gr. I), with Pletcher's Bluegrass Cat and High Cotton taking on Albertrani's even-money favorite Bernardini.

(Chart, Equibase)