Hollywood Park Race Report: Golden Ballet Dances to Victory

Published in the May 26 Blood-Horse
Jenine Sahadi has been tested at the highest levels. She's played the game long enough to know when it's time to ease off the gas a bit. After Golden Ballet's surprising loss to Fleet Renee in Keeneland's Ashland Stakes (gr. I) in April, there was no question in Sahadi's mind. Enough was enough.

And for Golden Ballet, enough meant no Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).

"No, it wasn't a difficult decision," admitted Sahadi. "I just think it's too much to put a horse through. It was the middle of the year, she'd already won two grade Is, and I just didn't see the point. It just made sense to try to take good care of her."

To quickly backtrack, Golden Ballet had spent the early part of her year blitzing anything that stood in her way out west. Flute and Two Item Limit, who each tried but couldn't take down the Moscow Ballet filly at Santa Anita, at least had nice things to say about her back east. Flute kept busy making a name for herself in the Kentucky Oaks, while Two Item Limit snatched up the Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II).

Sahadi, meanwhile, had Golden Ballet on slow burn, gearing up for a set of races at Hollywood Park tailor-made for the filly's dazzling speed and relentless desire.

The explosion finally came on May 19, when Golden Ballet brushed off the $150,000 Railbird Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs.

The Railbird was typical Golden Ballet--fast and untouchable. Pretty 'n Smart at least stayed close for a half, pushing Golden Ballet through splits of :21.91 and :44.45. By the quarter pole, however, it was over. Golden Ballet cornered wide and simply bounded away, flashing under the wire a facile four lengths clear in 1:21.57. Chris McCarron was merely along for the ride.

Save for the Ashland defeat, Golden Ballet has been nothing but flawless this year for her owners, Bill Heiligbrodt and the Team Valor syndicate. With the Railbird safely tucked away, the June 16 Princess Stakes (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles now becomes the next target, followed by the nine-furlong Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) four weeks later.

"She's just kind of come full circle again," Sahadi said. "It's like the beginning of this year starting over again in the middle of the year. Like I said, it's only May right now, and we've still got a long year ahead."

If Golden Ballet keeps it up, it's going to be a really long year for the others.

Sligo Bay may not ring a bell just yet, but if his dashing score in the $108,600 Cinema Handicap (gr. IIIT) is a glimpse at the future, you better remember the name.

A 3-year-old son of Sadler's Wells trained by Beau Greely, Sligo Bay began his career overseas, where he wrapped up his season last fall with a solid third in the 1 1/4-mile Criterium de Saint-Cloud (Fr-I). His local debut was worth the wait.

Tucked in quietly by Laffit Pincay Jr. until the mad dash for home, Sligo Bay uncorked a devastating late run that beat Learing At Kathy by a length. He went nine furlongs in 1:48.40 and is owned by Andrea Pollack's Columbine Stable. Greely has indicated Arlington's Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) as the colt's primary goal.

Downtime has done wonders for Tiznow's aching back, and the 2000 Horse of the Year is set to resume training, according to his trainer, Jay Robbins.

Diagnosed under nuclear scintigraphy a month ago, the back injury--located in Tiznow's lumbar vertebrae--reduced the colt to mere tack-walking over recent weeks and cost him an appearance in the May 12 Pimlico Special (gr. I). The results of a follow-up scintigram, taken on May 17, however, were encouraging, giving Tiznow the green light to begin jogging.

When and where the son of Cee's Tizzy returns to action, though, is still undetermined. Del Mar's Pacific Classic (gr. I) seems the earliest marquee option, though Robbins is reluctant to go in without the benefit of a prep race. Still, there is an outside chance.

"When he made his first start as a 3-year-old, he did it quickly," Robbins said, adverting to Tiznow's ability to shape up quickly. "I think he retains his fitness pretty good."  

(Chart, Equibase)