Godolphin's Music Note repelled a bid from Indian Blessing at the top of the stretch and sloshed home for a 5 1/4-length upset victory in the $300,000 Ballerina (gr. I) (VIDEO) Aug. 29 at Saratoga.
The 4-year-old A.P. Indy
filly won in just her second start of the season and earned her fourth grade I victory in only 10 lifetime starts to become a millionaire. It was the second graded stakes score of the day at the Spa for Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who won the Victory Ride
(gr. III) with Sara Louise
three races earlier.
Under the guiding of Rajiv Maragh, Music Note sat just behind the two favorites—Indian Blessing and Informed Decision
—in the opening quarter of the seven-furlong race. Indian Blessing, the two-time champion, had a narrow advantage over Informed Decision, a winner of five consecutive races, after a quarter-mile in :23.13.
Music Note made her winning move shortly after that opening-quarter, as Maragh moved her smartly through an opening at the rail and wrested command from the two pacesetters. The bay filly was a head in front of Indian Blessing after a half-mile in :45.76 and 1 1/2 lengths clear at the eighth-pole.
Music Note began to inch clear in upper stretch and opened up a commanding lead by the time she hit the sixteenth-pole. She stopped the clock in 1:22.10 on a track labeled “sloppy.” Indian Blessing was runner-up, a length in front of Informed Decision, who made up ground late after dropping back midway through the contest.
“It was very fortunate that she took me there,” said Maragh of the winning move. “She got me there on her own will. I think that was to our advantage at that point where we weren't eight or nine lengths out of it. When I saw Indian Blessing come alongside of us at the top of the stretch, my filly just started sprinting away.”
Music Note was an Eclipse Award finalist in the 3-year-old filly division last season after winning the Mother Goose, Coaching Club American Oaks, and Gazelle, all grade I events in New York. She also finished second in the Alabama (gr. I) to eventual champion Proud Spell and was third in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) in October at Santa Anita. Music Note opened her 2009 campaign June 13 in the Ogden Phipps (gr. I) at Belmont and finished fifth. This was her first sprint since October of 2007 when making her racing debut.
“Music Note ran a big race and we are happy with her,” Suroor said. “She’s really healthy and back in exactly the same form she was last year. She’s a tough filly and she always tries hard. (Maragh) gave her a brilliant ride and she handled the mud really well today. Maybe we’ll find a (one turn) race for her in New York (at Belmont Park). We’ll see how she comes back.”
Music Note, who was bred in Kentucky by Gainsborough Farm and is out of the Sadler’s Wells mare Note Musicale, is now 6-1-1 from 10 starts with earnings of $1,057,000.
The winner, sent off as the third choice, paid $13.60, $5.10, and $2.80. The exacta (1-4) returned $35.40 and the trifecta (1-4-2) was $54.
Of Indian Blessing’s runner-up performance, jockey John Velazquez said: “It was a good trip. She broke sharp like she always does. I tried to give her a good chance the first part of the race. It wasn’t my plan to get out in front. I planned for second or third and she just happened to do that and the other two horses didn’t go so I just happened to be there and she got tired.
"(Music Note) just ran better than her today. I think she’s just coming back and she’s getting better now.”
Indian Blessing, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2007 and last year's champion filly sprinter, is now winless in three starts this season after winning six of nine in 2008.