John C. Oxley's Beautiful Pleasure earned a front-running win in in the $400,000 Personal Ensign Handicap (gr. I) Friday at Saratoga. Under Jorge Chavez, Beautiful Pleasure raced wide around both turns while alone on the lead before racing down the center of the track through the stretch, finishing five lengths clear of Back in Shape. The latter was disqualified and placed fourth due to a bumping incident with Pentatonic, moving Heritage of Gold up to second. Pentatonic was placed third after finishing fourth. Up We Go finished last. The winner set fractions of :48.71, 1:12.42, and 1:37.31 before completing the 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.77 while racing over a fast track.
"She relaxed well out in front," Chavez said. "I didn't want to fight her. Even when we were wide around the turns, I let her do her thing. She puts me where she wants to be."
The win is the third on the year for the reigning distaff champion, but the first in three attempts against Heritage of Gold. The other wins for Beautiful Pleasure on the current campaign came in the Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) and the Hempstead Handicap (gr. I). Heritage of Gold won a sloppy renewal of the Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) by a length over Beautiful Pleasure, and the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I), in which Beautiful Pleasure finished a troubled fifth in her first start on the year.
"I think the difference today was the track," said Chavez. "Last time, it was heavy slop; today it was fast. She likes a sloppy track, but it has to be real sloppy, not heavy."
The win marks the second consecutive Personal Ensign Handicap win for Beautiful Pleasure, who on a sloppy track won last year's renewal by 2 1/4 lengths over Banshee Breeze.
Beautiful Pleasure (Maudlin--Beautiful Bid, by Baldski) was bred in Florida by Farnsworth Farms and is a full brother to multiple grade I winner Mecke. The John T. Ward Jr. trainee earned $240,000 for the win, the 10th victory in 19 career races for the 5-year-old mare.
"There were so many more positives going in this race as opposed to the Go for Wand," said Ward. "Her coat looked much better and she's about 25 pounds lighter."
"Jorge (Chavez) knew what the pace was and did a great job of rating her in front. I'm really glad she could turn the tables, and we'll go to the Beldame next." The $750,000 Beldame (gr. I) is a 1 1/8 mile one-turn race to be run Oct. 14th at Belmont Park.
Sent off as the 9-10 favorite, Beautiful Pleasure returned $3.80, $2.30, and $2.10. Heritage of Gold paid $2.20 and $2.10. Pentatonic returned $2.10 to show. The winning exacta combination was worth $5.60. (Chart, Equibase