Sea of Showers Looks Tough in Ballston Spa

(from Saratoga report)
Jimmy Toner, the trainer of grade 1 winner Wonder Again, was relieved to see Heat Haze win Saturday's Beverly D (gr. I) at Arlington Park.

Heat Haze defeated Wonder Again in the July 26 Diana (gr. IT) at Saratoga and while not beaten badly, she could not match strides with Heat Haze when it counted.

But Toner isn't fortunate enough to completely miss the Bobby Frankel juggernaut in Saturday's $200,000 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 1/16 mile on the grass. Frankel entered Sea of Showers, a stakes-winning filly that is undefeated in three starts in this country.

Toner goes with the ultra consistent Wonder Again, a 4-year-old filly who has only finished worse than third twice in nine turf starts. Wonder Again steps into the Ballston Spa off a fifth-place finish behind Voodoo Dancer and Heat Haze in the Diana. That day Wonder Again was uncharacteristically fighting for the lead early, then weakened in the last eighth of a mile. Wonder Again may have finished off the board, but she was only beaten three lengths for it all.

"You hate to complain when they go a half in :48, but I do think she's better when she's got some cover and comes with that last push," Toner said. "She had run twice before that (this year) and really didn't have to dig in and fight. She only ran an eighth of a mile in the Just a Game and was coming off a long layoff in the Beaugay. There wasn't anything left in the tank when Edgar (Prado) called on her. She'll be better this time."

It's been sort of a frustrating year for Wonder Again. She took the lead late in the stretch of the May 3 Beaugay, her seasonal debut, only to be run down by the surging Delta Princess. In the June 7 Just a Game on Belmont Stakes day, Wonder Again was trapped along the inside and found room after Mariensky and Riskaverse had spurted clear at the eighth pole. Wonder Again never quit running, but she had too much to do in the last eighth of a mile and finished third.

"We haven't had the best of trips this year," said Toner, who won the Ballston Spa in 1998 with Memories of Silver. "I'm hoping some things go our way this time. She's been training great. No excuses."

Wonder Again won the Lake Placid (gr. IIT) on the Mellon Turf Course last summer before achieving Grade 1 glory in Belmont Park's Garden City Breeders' Cup.

Flaxman Holdings' Sea of Showers is a half-sister to grade 1 winners Good Journey and Aldebaran. She has lived up to her blue-blooded pedigree, winning all three of her North American starts for Frankel.

Sea of Showers will be making her first start since the April 13 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland, where she closed from well off the pace to win going away. Sea of Showers gets the riding services of Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who has won four out of the last five runnings of the Ballston Spa. Frankel won this race for Flaxman Holdings last summer with Surya.

$200,000 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT), fillies and mares 3 & up, 1 1/16 mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey Name
1. Lentil (ON), 111, Jose Espinoza
2. Sea of Showers (KY), 117, Jerry D. Bailey
3. Stylish (KY), 116, John R. Velazquez
4. Cozzy Corner (KY), 112, Jean-Luc Samyn
5. Wonder Again (KY), 117, Edgar S. Prado
6. Snow Dance (KY), 117, Richard Migliore
7. Quick Tip (KY), 115, Pat Day
8. Vespers (KY), 113, Jose Santos
9. Love n' Kiss S. (KY), 113, Alex O. Solis
Main Track Only
10. Nonsuch Bay (KY), 121 (No Rider)