Augustin Stable’s Informed Decision faces a much-anticipated rematch with Ventura Nov. 6 in the $1-million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park. When the two tangled back in April on Keeneland’s Polytrack, Informed Decision defeated Ventura by a head in the Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. I).
Ventura, who will break from the far outside, No. 9 post in the Filly & Mare Sprint after winning the race last year, is the 8-5 morning line favorite. Informed Decision, the second choice at 5-2, is in the No. 7 hole.
“Obviously, Informed Decision and Ventura probably stand out as the two primary candidates, but it wouldn’t be a complete upset if one of two or three other horses won it,” said Informed Decision’s Hall-of-Fame trainer, Jonathan Sheppard. “I’m very happy with my filly coming up to the race. I like her post position because she’s toward the outside, but not way on the outside. I guarantee you, we’re going to be stalking whoever’s on the lead, and Ventura is going be stalking us.”
In the Vinery Madison, Ventura rallied from last in the field of six to grab the lead, but the hard-charging Informed Decision caught her with a late burst of speed.
“I think that the Ventura camp felt that he (the mare’s jockey, Garrett Gomez), hit the front too soon,” Sheppard said. “My interpretation was that our filly finished just a little bit stronger than she (Ventura) did. Maybe he (Gomez) did hit the front a little bit too soon, but you can’t leave it until too late. He wasn’t in front that far from home. I think a lot of it was that they (Ventura’s Juddmonte Farms connections) really expected to win, and they were really pissed off that they didn’t.”
Informed Decision has won four of her five races since, including the Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I) on dirt at Churchill Downs, the Chicago Handicap (gr. III) on Arlington Park’s Polytrack, and the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. III) on Tapeta. The 4-year-old daughter of Monarchos is coming into the Breeders’ Cup off of a three-quarter length victory over Carlsbad in the Oct. 10 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland.
“I would say she has maintained her form from the spring when she won back-to-back grade I’s — one on synthetic and one on dirt,” Sheppard said. “I couldn’t say that she’s improved since then, but I don’t think she’s lost anything.”
In the seven-furlong Filly & Mare Sprint, Informed Decision, who will be ridden by Julien Leparoux, will be competing on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface for the first time, but Sheppard isn’t too concerned.
“She’s been on all kinds of different tracks — conventional dirt and about three different kinds of synthetics,” he said. “She had her final work Sunday (Nov. 1) at Keeneland. It (Pro-Ride) isn’t exactly identical to what she just worked on and has been running on, but there’s not that much difference.”
The perfect scenario for Informed Decision in the Filly & Mare Sprint would be for her to “break alertly and go sort of head-and-head for the lead and then just ease back in stalking position behind the outside of a couple of speed horses,” Sheppard said.
Even though Informed Decision’s pedigree suggests she could be a distance runner — her sire won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and her dam is by His Majesty — she has never raced beyond a mile, and Sheppard doesn’t have any desire to try her going long.
“She’s almost more like a colt; she’s very aggressive,” the trainer said. “She’s always feeling good, and she’s very anxious, almost overly anxious sometimes, to go out there to do her work. She’s kind of like a coiled spring. She’s very powerful and muscular, and she has explosive speed. If God gave her that, why try to take it away from her? You would have to change her running style to get her to go two turns, and if you did that, you might take away the strongest thing that she’s got.”