Trainer Bobby Frankel didn't have his big gun for Saturday's $300,000 Ruffian Handicap (gr. I), but his replacements in the race, Wild Spirit and You proved more than capable back-ups, posting a one-two finish.
The Chilean-bred Wild Spirit, ridden by Jerry Bailey, bounced back from her only loss in the United States with a convincing 3 1/2-length victory over You and Eibar Coa. Passing Shot, who defeated Wild Spirit by a nose in the Personal Ensign (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 22, was 8 1/2 lengths behind the winner this time. The time was 1:41 1/5 for the 1 1/16-mile event on a fast track.
Sightseek missed the race with a cough that has been circulating through Frankel's New York stable, but it did not appear to be affecting Wild Spirit, who was impressive in victory at odds of 1-2.
You was hustled to the front while Wild Spirit raced wide while near the rear of the six-horse field. You went :23, :45 4/5 and 1:10 before her stablemate, who made a five-wide move on the turn, took over after being shaken up at the top of the stretch. She drew clear under a hand ride down the stretch.
"I told (Jerry Bailey on Wild Spirit) to get her to the outside," Frankel said. "That's all. You know who I was scared of? It was You. I knew she would make that easy lead, and she ran a great race. She beat the third horse easily. If you noticed, Jerry didn't even hit (Wild Spirit) today. I think maybe that will mean something, too. You can't do this in the Breeders' Cup because you would be 20-wide.
"She's a super filly, this filly. We'll see what happens. If she wins for $750,000 (gr. I Beldame at nine furlongs Oct. 4), why would I need to go to the Breeders' Cup with her and put up all that money? I'll talk to the owners about it."
Bailey, who was aboard Wild Spirit when she shortened stride in the stretch run of the Personal Ensign, said he rode with confidence.
"She probably prefers being outside," He said. "It's a small field in a one-turn race. It's pretty easy to get them out. Bobby (Frankel) might be right; she doesn't like to be hit."
Passing Shot, ridden by Jose Santos, showed speed while racing wide, was four wide on the turn and faded.
A 4-year-old Hussonet filly who races for Sumaya Us Stables, Wild Spirit was a multiple group I winner in Chile. She captured her first grade I race in the U.S. and now has three wins in four starts in this country. She is nine-for-14 overall. Her $180,000 purse pushed her career bankroll to $934,690.
Wild Spirit pais $3.10, $2.30 and $2.10. You returned $3.10 and $2.10. Passing Shot's show price was $2.10.
Devon Rose, She's Got The Beat and Nonsuch Bay completed the order of finish.