A field of nine top-notch fillies and mares are set to contest this year’s running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina Stakes. The race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” event for the Filly & Mare Sprint and is led by the Chad Brown-trained Lewis Bay. She dominated her competition in the Grade 3 Bed O’ Roses Stakes last out for her first win of the season. She will be challenged by the classy Finley’sluckycharm, who won the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap over this race track last time out.
“She ran so fast last time that I wanted to give her a long time between races. I would love to see her win a Grade 1. She really deserves it,” said Brown.
The winner of the Ballerina will receive an automatic position in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint this fall at Churchill Downs. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the person who nominated the foal or racehorse. 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 Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes will be one of many huge races at Saratoga this Saturday. The card features seven graded stakes events in total on the day. Along with the Ballerina Stakes, there are three other Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events: The Grade 1 Sword Dancer (Longines Turf), The Grade 1 Personal Ensign (Longines Distaff), and the Grade 1 Forego (Dirt Mile). Also on the card is the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, which will likely have a direct impact on the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue next Saturday at Saratoga with the prestigious Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. The race serves as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Fillies Stakes.
The racing from Saratoga can be found live on two different national television networks throughout the day. The live on-site coverage starts on Fox Sports 2 with Saratoga Live from 1:00 – 4:00 PM ET before continuing on NBC from 4:00 – 6:00 PM ET.
The full field from the rail out includes: Tequilita, Ivy Bell, Still There, Cairenn, Finley’sluckycharm, Lewis Bay, Marley’s Freedom, Union Strike, and Highway Star.
#7 Marley’s Freedom –Trainer Bob Baffert ships in this monster who has rattled off three straight victories. Two of those wins were against graded stakes company, including the Grade 2 Great Lady M Stakes at Los Alamitos in her last start. She didn’t do well the one time she shipped previously in her career, but she is a completely different filly this time.
Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers
#6 Lewis Bay – This might be the classiest filly in training and has hit the board in 14 of 15 lifetime starts. This multiple graded stakes winner is still looking for her first Grade 1 triumph, though, and seems to be coming into this spot in great form. Last time out, she dominated her rivals in the Bed O’ Roses by 5 1/2 lengths. Brown will have her ready to fire.
#2 Ivy Bell – After trying to stretch out in her last two races, trainer Todd Pletcher has entered her back in a sprint, which seems to be where she is best. She started off the year with an impressive win in the Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream Park, then was second in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs. Those were her two best races of the year, but she did not embarrass herself when going longer with a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps two races back. This 7-furlong distance should suit her perfectly, which makes her dangerous.
#5 Finley’sluckycharm – Trainer Bret Calhoun stated right after her Honorable Miss triumph that this was the main goal. He has done a great job of getting her here in top form, as her Honorable Miss win may have been the best of her career. She picked up her first career Grade 1 win in the Madison Stakes earlier this year at Keeneland and could make it two Grade 1 wins in one year with a win here.
#8 Union Strike – This filly runs for trainer Steve Asmussen for the first time after a couple of so-so starts to begin her year. She won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante Stakes in 2016 before running in the Breeders’ Cup and was a stakes winner in 2017, too. This will be her third start off the layoff, which coupled with a new barn could lead to improvement.
#9 Highway Star – Last year, she was second in this race before winning the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Stakes at Belmont Park. She ended up running in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint but did not make much of an impact. She enters this event off of three straight runner-up finishes but is a 7-furlong specialist, with a record of 3-2-0 from 6 lifetime starts.
#1 Tequilita – This multiple graded stakes winner will try for her first Grade 1 victory here. She has struggled this year, having hit the board in only 1 of 4 starts, but her back class suggests that she could be dangerous here at a nice price. Three races back, she was a decent third in the Grade 2 Ruffian Stakes, and she shipped to Saratoga to run a solid third in last year’s Grade 1 Test Stakes. She seems to always show up with a nice effort on the NYRA circuit.
#4 Cairenn – This consistent filly has hit the board in 12 straight races, including her last four, all in stakes events. This will be her first try against Grade 1 company, but she did finish third against a tough Bed O’ Roses field. Her consistency must be respected in this race.
#3 Still There – She looks ready to take on graded stakes company after winning 3 of her first 4 starts. Her only loss came on the turf at Belmont Park, so she is actually undefeated when running on the dirt. Last time out, she became a stakes winner after capturing a small $75K victory at Laurel Park. This is the next logical step for this lightly-raced filly.