Personal Ensign Stakes Preview: Curalina Looks for Two in a Row

curalina wins G3 Shuvee credit Chelsea Durand/NYRA
Chelsea Durand/NYRA

Cavorting, undefeated in three graded stakes around one turn at Saratoga Race Course, seeks her first two-turn victory in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Personal Ensign.

The five-horse field features four Grade 1 winners, each with earnings in excess of $1 million. The 1 1/8-mile main track race serves as a designated Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the Longines Distaff at Santa Anita in November.

Pace Scenario – Slow

Speed: NONE

Stalkers: #1 I’m a Chatterbox, #2 Curalina, #4 Paid Up Subscriber

Closers: #3 Forever Unbridled, #5 Cavorting

This one has a shot to be a complete crawl up front.  You’d have to think it will be I’m a Chatterbox or Curalina that assumes the lead, and both of those two could have an advantage over the rest of the field if they can get out to an easy lead.  Another possibility is for the whole field to be bunched up throughout the entire race leading to a mad scramble down the lane to see who can get to the line first.


Top Pick: #2 Curalina

In two of her three races this year she’s looked about as good as you can possibly look.  Her only poor performance came in the Odgen Phipps where perhaps she didn’t prefer one turn in comparison to her two wins that were both around two turns.  Last time out, even though it was on the slop, was an eye opener as she absolutely crushed at the same distance she’ll be running at today.  I’m hoping for that same type of performance, and believe she’s ready to run a big one yet again today.

Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #3 Forever Unbridled, #5 Cavorting

I’ve been a big fan of Forever Unbridled ever since her Apple Blossom victory, and with Cavorting its been hard not to like her for over a year now.  These two were the one-two finshers Ogden Phipps Stakes on Belmont Stakes Day which was a very strong race that featured pretty much every top older filly or mare on the east coast.  Distance will be a question mark for Cavorting today, but the distance will be perfect for Forever Unbridled.  You must use both of these horses.

Exotic Plays: #1 I’m a Chatterbox

She definitely returned to form in a big way last time out in the Delaware Handicap, but had to survive an inquiry that really could have gone either way as she did interfere with several horses right out of the gate.  Even though she won I wasn’t overly impressed with the effort, and believe she’ll have to raise her game to win this one.  She had two really tough luck losses at Saratoga last year, and I think that streak could become three after Saturday.

Party Crashers: NONE

Any of the five can win this race so I can’t call any of these winning an upset.  Even my throw out horse, Paid Up Subscriber, has an outside shot to win this one.  The projected slow pace of this race muddies the water even further as literally anything could happen.

Throw Outs: #4 Paid Up Subscriber

You hate to throw out anyone in this field, but I felt like I should do it to at least one horse.  Paid Up Subscriber is an honest horse that honestly does have a shot, but just looks to be the weakest of the five horses.  She lost to I’m a Chatterbox last time out who I have ranked fourth in the group so Paid Up Subscriber was the logical toss.


Stonestreet Stables’ Cavorting is a winner of 7-of-12 career starts, with earnings topping $1.6 million. The 4-year-old daughter of Bernardini won the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga as a 2-year-old, and the following season emerged victorious in both the Grade 1 Test and Grade 2 Prioress.

The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Cavorting enters the Personal Ensign off back-to-back wins in one-turn races at Belmont Park; the Grade 2 Ruffian and Grade 1 Ogden Phipps. In both those starts, the filly sat off the pace and unleashed monster runs.

McLaughlin, who is seeking his first Personal Ensign win, admitted to some trepidation in advance of the filly’s first two-turn test.

“We hope she settles toward the rear again and makes a big run,” McLaughlin said. “The distance isn’t a big deal, but two turns is different.

“In my experience as a trainer at Belmont Park and coming here, you have those few horses who want one turn, not two,” he added. “Cavorting might be one of those, but we hope not. It can happen, but you don’t know until you try.”

Javier Castellano will ride Cavorting from post 5.

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Curalina is a Grade 1 winner around one and two turns. The Todd Pletcher-trained filly won the two-turn, Grade 1 La Troienne at Churchill Downs in May. As a 3-year-old, she captured the Grade 1 Acorn at one mile at Belmont Park. Her 2015 campaign also featured a Grade 1 score at Saratoga, when she was elevated to first in the Coaching Club American Oaks upon the disqualification of the winner, I’m a Chatterbox, for interference.

Curalina enters the Personal Ensign following a runaway victory in the Grade 3 Shuvee earlier in the Saratoga meet. She won the 1 1/8-mile race by 9 1/4 lengths on a sloppy and sealed track, defeating three rivals.

“For as convincingly as she won, she was geared down the last part and won pretty easily,” said Pletcher, who seeks his third Personal Ensign victory. “I thought she bounced out of it really well.”

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has the call from post 2.

While Pletcher doesn’t believe his filly is by any means one-dimensional in her running style, he acknowledged she likely will be forwardly placed.

“I think her natural high cruising speed will put her into the race – she is not a need-the-lead type – but she seems to run her best when you allow her to get into a high cruising speed and a comfortable rhythm,” Pletcher said.

Florent Geroux, who piloted Cavorting to victory in the Ogden Phipps, will partner again with I’m a Chatterbox, a horse he has ridden in the majority of her starts. I’m a Chatterbox, the winner of the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap in her last start, didn’t have the best of luck at Saratoga last year.

The Larry Jones-trained filly, owned by Carolyn and Fletcher Gray, won the 2015 Ccoaching Club American Oaks by a nose over Curalina, but was placed second after it was determined by the stewards that she interfered with the runner-up in the stretch run. I’m a Chatterbox returned to finish second in the Grade 1 Alabama, Saratoga’s signature race for 3-year-old fillies.

Forever Unbridled, who became a Grade 1 winner earlier this year in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, finished second in the Ogden Phipps, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Cavorting. The Personal Ensign marks the Saratoga debut for the Dallas Stewart-trained filly, whose younger brother Forever d’Oro will run in the Travers. Forever Unbridled’s older sister, Unbridled Forever, won the Grade 1 Ballerina here last year.

Completing the field is Paid Up Subscriber, who finished second to I’m a Chatterbox in the Delaware Handicap after a rough break leaving the starting gate. Trainer Al Stall, Jr. was very pleased with his charge’s final work for the Personal Ensign, a bullet six furlongs in 1:12.16, August 19.

To Top

Subscribers receive the latest news, picks and updates from the Dudes. Subscribe now and recieve a one FREE track of our premium picks!

You have Successfully Subscribed!