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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – St. George Stable homebred Letrustka leaps up to the toughest trial of her illustrious career in Saturday’s $300,000 Ballerina Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.
The winner of the Ballerina will receive an automatic position in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) this fall at Keeneland. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
The Ballerina is a 7-furlong dirt sprint restricted to fillies and mares ages 3 and up. Let’s take a look at the full field:
#1 Serengeti Empress – The Alternation filly nearly won last year’s Test Stakes (G1) over this course and distance, knocking heads nearly every step of the way before succumbing to Covfefe, the eventual Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint champion. She recently fired a bullet best-of-47 4-furlong work in :46.80 over the local strip, so if she gets loose on her own up front, watch out.
#2 Cookie Dough – The speedy Arindel homebred broke her maiden in 2018 while going this distance over the Gulfstream Park dirt in a Florida-bred stakes. While the Brethren filly has enjoyed success while running longer, her early turn of foot might prove to be better deployed at this tricky one-turn distance.
#3 Victim of Love – The Speightstown filly sprung a 27/1 upset in the Vagrancy Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park last time out, dispatching of familiar rival Come Dancing to earn her shot here. She has 2 wins, a second, and a third in her last 4 starts while covering no greater than 7 furlongs, all of which came against stakes company, so she fits well in this deep field.
#4 Bellafina – The Quality Road filly returns to Saratoga after finishing a well-beaten third in last summer’s Test. She was much sharper in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, finishing second by just 3/4 of a length, but despite her considerable class, she has lost all 5 prior starts at tracks not based in California.
#5 Letruska – The Super Saver filly enjoyed a sensational start to her career by winning 6 straight, including a pair of Group 1 events by a combined 23 1/2 lengths while running in Mexico City. She most recently championed the 8-furlong Added Elegance Stakes at Gulfstream Park over Nonna Madeline, winner of Wednesday’s Summer Colony Stakes at Saratoga.
#6 Pink Sands – The Tapit mare won her last attempt at this distance, taking January’s Inside Information Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park by 3 lengths. She misfired last time out in June’s Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, but she should look much better in her second start off the bench for trainer Shug McGaughey, whose 5 career Ballerina wins are the most of any trainer.
#7 Come Dancing – The Blue Devil Racing Stable homebred and defending Ballerina champion won 4 of her 5 starts last year leading up to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, where she was a non-threatening sixth. Rather than retire her to become a broodmare, her connections opted to keep her in training this season with an eye on avenging her prior appearance in the year-end World Championships.
The Ballerina Stakes serves as race 7 and is the first of five stakes on the Saturday card at Saratoga, including the Runhappy Travers (G1), the Longines Test (G1), the Troy (G3), and the Waya (G3). The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on August 15 at Saratoga with the Alabama Stakes (Longines Distaff).
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is presented by America’s Best Racing.
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