Beautiful Pleasure, the nation's top distaff runner two years ago, will try her luck in the grade I $250,000 Go For Wand at Saratoga for the third year in a row. She was beaten in 1999 by Banshee Breeze, and last year was second to Heritage of Gold.
The 6-year-old made her return to the races last month in the grade I Hempstead at Belmont Park, setting the early pace but tiring to last. She was put on the shelf by trainer John Ward and owner John Oxley over the winter while they decided whether to breed her. Clearly, she needed the Hempstead to get into racing condition, and the question is how much is left in the tank overall. Beautiful Pleasure will run coupled with Darling My Darling in the Go For Wand, who is owned by Debbie Oxley and trained by Ward.
"She's a good elder athlete who will race into shape," said John Ward, who trains the mare with his wife, Donna. "She's about 40 pounds lighter than she was in the Hempstead and she's more solid. She should improve."
Critical Eye is the 'now' horse in the Go For Wand. She had a big meet at Belmont this spring, capturing the Hempstead and the Sheepshead Bay. "She's at the top of her game," said trainer Scott Schwartz. I wish the Breeders' Cup were now." Schwartz will be looking for his first stakes win at the Spa.
Also in with a shot is last year's Kentucky Oaks victor Secret Status. The A.P. Indy filly is coming off an allowance score at Keeneland and a second in the Fleur de Lis to Saudi Poetry last month. "She's trained very well for this," trainer Neil Howard noted. "If she can run back to the Oaks, it puts her back in the picture for the top of the division."
The field for Sunday's Go For Wand, which will be telecast via tape delay by ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. eastern, in post position order with jockeys and weights: Serra Lake (Edgar Prado, 113); Critical Eye (Jerry Bailey, 117); March Magic (Richard Migliore, 114); Pompeii (Javier Castellano, 114); Wittenberg (Dale Beckner, 112); Secret Status (Pat Day, 117); Beautiful Pleasure (Jorge Chavez, 118); Darling My Darling (John Velazquez, 113); and Dreams Gallore (Donnie Meche, 113).