Stonestreet Stables' Cavorting came out on top in a cavalry charge down the stretch of the $750,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (gr. I), the first of six grade I races on the Aug. 27 Travers Day card at Saratoga Race Course.
Only five were entered in the Personal Ensign but the field was deep with four grade I winners going to battle. After the break, Castellano took Cavorting back and down to the rail and bided his time as I'm a Chatterbox led the field through opening fractions of :23.98, :48.77, and 1:12.64. Tracking close behind throughout were Curalina, Forever Unbridled, and longshot Paid Up Subscriber, who is a grade II winner and grade I placed.
Coming out of the turn, Cavorting was still at the back of the field while a four-horse cavalry charge lined up across the track. As I'm a Chatterbox began backing up down on the rail, Cavorting hit the afterburners. She caught the leaders at the sixteenth pole and thwarted Curalina's strong drive to the wire.
"She ran terrific," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "Javier got her back and the others went four wide. He saved ground, and I think that was key to the race. That was an important move he made into the first turn."
Castellano said he had pull Cavorting back after the break, feeling she wanted to rush toward the lead.
"My concern was that it was going to be two turns for her for the first time, and at a mile and an eighth," said the jockey. "I had to save some ground and save something for the end. If I got too far back, I wasn't going to catch them because they were running pretty quick. Turning for home, the way she did, it was amazing. I absolutely felt pure power."
McLaughlin said he was not sure where Cavorting would go straight to the Breeders' Cup World Championships for her next start or run back at Belmont Park. The Personal Ensign is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I).
Jockey John Velazquez on Curalina said the race unfolded as anticipated but without as much early speed.
"There was no speed," he said. "The only speed was the horse in front of us (I'm a Chatterbox). That's where we landed. She ran hard, she just got beat."
Cavorting paid $6.90, $3.40, and $2.50. Curalina paid $3 and $2.20, while Forever Unbridled paid $2.50. The $2 exacta was worth $16.20, and a $2 trifecta paid $38.40.
Bred in Kentucky by Swettenham Stud, Cavorting is out of the graded stakes-winning Carson City daughter Promenade Girl. Barbara Banke's Stonestreet bought the filly for $360,000 out of the 2012 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. She has three wins out of four starts this year and has career earnings in excess of $2.1 million. Her only loss of the year was a second in the Distaff Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct.