Paulassilverlining wins the Honorable Miss Handicap July 26 at Saratoga Race Course

Paulassilverlining wins the Honorable Miss Handicap July 26 at Saratoga Race Course

Coglianese Photos

Paulassilverlining Brings Best Form Into Ballerina

Daughter of Ghostzapper unbeaten in three starts in 2017.

The difference in Paulassilverlining this year and the hard-knocking distaffer that laid her heart on the track the previous three seasons isn't some extraordinary shift.

She was always as tough as they come, both in her races and around her stall, and boasted a multiple graded-stakes winning resume any horseman would be proud to have one of their charges produce. What has changed for the 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper  is she is no longer on the receiving end of gut-punching defeats. Instead of being denied when top-level races on are the line, she has become the force none of her divisional rivals seem to have an answer for.

The pro-tem leader of the female sprint division puts her four-race win streak on the line Aug. 26 when she breaks from post 3 in a field of seven entered for the $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina Stakes (G1) going seven furlongs at Saratoga Race Course.

Since being purchased privately by Juddmonte Farms earlier this year and transferred to the barn of Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, Paulassilverlining has won each of her three starts this season including victories in the Madison Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs. If there is a start that most embodies why her connections fell so hard for her in the first place, it was her win last time out in the July 26 Honorable Miss Handicap (G2) at Saratoga over six furlongs when Finley'sluckycharm appeared to have her rival put away in late stretch only to have Paulassilverlining get the best of her in the final strides.

"That Honorable Miss was just a prep for the Ballerina but by God, it ended up being nearly as tough a race as the Ballerina probably will be," said Garrett O'Rourke, manager of Juddmonte Farms. "As she always does, win or lose, she goes in there with those ears pinned back and fights like a prize fighter. Obviously she's very talented but I think her courage is even more admirable. 

"I think the world of Finley'sluckycharm and ... I thought she had her put away. But it was like she saw the opportunity and she just pounced on her in the last five to six jumps and pulled it off. That was very exciting and it makes you admire a filly that you already admire even more."

This year's Ballerina offers Paulassilverlining a chance to make amends for one of her rare "off days," relatively speaking, as she finished fifth in the race last season. That outing marked the only time she has been worse than fourth in 21 career starts but she was still only beaten 2 1/2 lengths that day.

Since that Ballerina loss, the only other defeat Paulasilverlining has suffered in six subsequent starts came when she was third in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita Park—a race that is again her target this year.

"She was a top-class filly always, which is why we went after her and purchased her, and I think the fact she has turned it up to another level, maybe she waited her turn long enough," O'Rourke said. "The difference between a really fast horse that wins and a fast horse that loses in a sprint race is only really a tenth of a second or so. And the good ones, it seems, sometimes find that tenth of a second when they're five years of age, whether its they get older and stronger or whether they can run that six furlongs in a little more relaxed fashion and save a bit more at the end. 

"But when you look at form cycles of top sprinters, a lot of those that are knocking on the door for a few years seem to get there when they hit that age."

The most formidable threat to the favorite may come from her old barn. Trainer Michelle Nevin's grade 1 winner By the Moon enters the Ballerina on the strength of a third to Paulassilverlining in the Honorable Miss, losing by three-quarters of a length at the wire after a steady, gaining drive. The daughter of Indian Charlie has had a productive season, winning two of her four starts—all in graded stakes company—and receives five pounds from her rival under the Ballerina's allowance conditions.

"I feel like she loves Saratoga and has been training really well here," Nevin said. "She's feeling well, is bright and happy and I think she's coming in great shape. The seven furlongs will be better for her and is a good trip for the way she runs. In (the Honorable Miss), she ran huge. She's not the quick six-furlong type, so her effort was great considering that."

Happy Alter's Curlin's Approval brings her Florida form to Saratoga on the heels of a 4 1/2-length victory in the seven-furlong Princess Rooney Stakes Presented by Hardacre Farm (G2) at Gulfstream Park July 1. The 4-year-old daughter of Curlin  can press the issue with her early speed and has six victories from 11 starts, including three stakes wins at this distance.

Entries: Ketel One Ballerina S. (G1)

Saratoga Race Course, Saturday, August 26, 2017, Race 7

  • Grade I
  • 7f
  • Dirt
  • $500,000
  • 3 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 2:59 PM (local)
11Birdatthewire (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateManuel Franco117Thomas F. Proctor20/1
22Curlin's Approval (KY)Luis Saez124Happy Alter4/1
33Paulassilverlining (KY)Jose L. Ortiz124Chad C. Brown2/1
44By the Moon (KY)Rajiv Maragh119Michelle Nevin3/1
55Carina Mia (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJavier Castellano121Chad C. Brown7/2
66Distinta (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJohn R. Velazquez121Todd A. Pletcher8/1
77Highway Star (NY)Angel S. Arroyo121Rodrigo A. Ubillo10/1