Indian Blessing Cruises in Test
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Indian Blessing cruises in the Test Stakes.
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Hal and Patti Earnhardt’s homebred filly Indian Blessing, who began her remarkable career almost a year ago by breaking her maiden at Saratoga, returned for the first time Aug. 2 in the $250,000 Test Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) and like she did in her debut, destroyed the competition. This time, the 3-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie won by seven lengths to earn the fourth grade I victory of her career.

Tracking the speed patiently under John Velazquez, Indian Blessing took over just beyond the half-mile pole, opened up a four-length lead at the top of the lane and cruised to an easy score. The final time for seven furlongs on a ‘fast’ main track was 1:22.70.

High Bank Syndicate’s Sweet Bank was runner-up, three lengths ahead of Ms. Margaret H. Palanka City was fourth in a field of six 3-year-old fillies.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Indian Blessing entered the Test off a convincing 5 1/4-length win in the July 5 Prioress (gr. I) at Belmont when she won in similar stalking fashion under Velazquez. Last year’s 2-year-old champion filly is now 7-2-0 from nine career starts and solidified herself as the premier 3-year-old female dirt sprinter in the nation. She has earned $1,997,200.

“She’s gotten better," Baffert said. "After that last race, we found a dimension where she can relax. We were afraid to take her back and thought it would be disastrous. She’s matured and learned how to relax. It’s fun to be in this situation. Today, she reminded me of the great fillies I had trained: Silverbulletday and Chilukki.

“She looked fantastic in the paddock. I thought there weren’t any excuses. You can tell that Johnny was on cruise control. He was cruising around and then he turned her loose. Once she got away clean, I knew she was going to drag him to the lead. It’s exciting for me to win the Test because I had a lot of bad luck. I would like to keep her on the dirt. I’m going to wait and enjoy this right now.”

Early in the Test, it was Palanka City who set the pace under Eibar Coa, posting a brisk :22.62 opening quarter while J Z Warrior and Indian Blessing tracked closely behind. Those three were still barely separated after a half-mile in :45.33, but once Indian Blessing took the lead, there was no doubt who was best. Velazquez gave a quick peek over his right shoulder as they rounded the turn and Indian Blessing was gone.

“It’s pretty simple: she broke good, stayed in the middle of the track in the first part of the race and by the three-eighths pole, I just gave her her head and she was all there," Velazquez said.

Going off as the overwhelming 2-5 favorite, Indian Blessing paid $2.80, $2.30 and $2.10. The exacta (6-3) was worth $9.20, while the trifecta (6-3-4) returned $54.

Bred in Kentucky and out of the Flying Chevron mare Shameful, Indian Blessing broke her maiden by 5 1/4 lengths at Saratoga Aug. 30, 2007 while going 5 1/2 furlongs. She won the first five starts of her career before suffering a defeat March 8 in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II).

The announced attendance at Saratoga Aug. 2 was 25,020.

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