Wild Spirit leads a field of six fillies and mares entered in Saturday's $300,000 Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park.The Ruffian figured to be Sightseek's race to lose, coming in off three straight grade I scores. Many horses in Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel's barn, however, have had a cough during the course of the last month and Sightseek is no exception. Instead of running her, Frankel will go with the team of Wild Spirit and You in a last-minute change of plans.
Frankel is confident Wild Spirit will run better than she did in the August 22nd Personal Ensign Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga. Sent off the prohibitive 1-5 favorite, Wild Spirit sat just behind the pace and moved up the rail to gain a one-length lead in the stretch, only to be cut down by Passing Shot.
In the Personal Ensign, Wild Spirit was spotting Passing Shot eight pounds; when they meet on Saturday, that margin will be reduced to six pounds as Wild Spirit is the 121-pound highweight."I don't think it was the weight," Frankel commented on the loss. "I just don't think she ran her race that day. The way it shaped up didn't help her. She's doing great now."Frankel has also entered Edmund Gann's You, the runner-up in this race last year behind Mandy's Gold. "It doesn't look like there's going to be much pace in the race," Frankel reasoned for entering the daughter of You and I. "She didn't run her race in the Ballerina." Joseph Shields Jr.'s Passing Shot became a grade I winner in her first attempt when she ran down Wild Spirit in the Personal Ensign. She picks up one pound off that win. "I hope she keeps running like she's been running lately," said Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens. "Her last two races are real big. You're not obligated to come back in another grade one, but if she's doing okay, you run."
The field for Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Ruffian:
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1 Wild Spirit, Bobby Frankel, Jerry Bailey, 121
2 Devon Rose, Allen Iwinski, Jorge Chavez, 115
3 You, Bobby Frankel, Eibar Coa, 118
4 Passing Shot, H. Allen Jerkens, Jose Santos, 115
5 Nonsuch Bay, Frank Alexander, Mark Guidry, 113
6 She's Got the Beat, P.G. Johnson, John Velazquez, 113