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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – St. George Stable homebred Letruska set a quick, pressured pace but still had enough left in the tank to deny all comers late and win Saturday’s $600,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) presented by Lia Infiniti at Saratoga.
The Personal Ensign is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Letruska receiving an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (her third such award) at Del Mar this November.
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Letruska exited post 6 under Irad Ortiz Jr. as the 3/5 favorite in the field of nine older fillies and mares and went straight to the lead, her customary racing position, but Miss Marissa and Swiss Skydiver didn’t let her have it easy and applied pressure in the early going.
As Letruska’s closest pursuers dropped off heading into the far turn, Harvey’s Lil Goil was quick to engage from her stalking position, but her bid faltered at the top of the stretch when Letruska rebuffed her.
Bonny South rallied to take up the chase in mid-stretch inside of the Chad Brown-trained duo of Royal Flag and Dunbar Road, and the trio chased gamely after the pacesetter, but Letruska once again kept her foes at bay.
The Fausto Gutierrez trainee crossed a 1/2-length the best, stopping the clock in 1:49.15 for the 1 1/8-mile fast dirt route.
“She’s a special horse,” Ortiz Jr. said. “I am very excited and happy for the trainer, Fausto Gutierrez. He’s done such a great job with her. She’s doing great. She does all the hard work, I just pilot her. She’s easy to ride. We always knew she was a nice filly, but she likes to fight. She’s a fighter.”
Bonny South was a head in front of Royal Flag for second, with Dunbar Road another head back in fourth.
Swiss Skydiver, As Time Goes By, Harvey’s Lil Goil, Miss Marissa, and Graceful Princess completed the order of finish.
Letruska’s win was her fourth straight and sixth in her past 7 starts to improve her record to 21-16-1-1 with $1,936,459 earned. Gutierrez said that the 5-year-old Super Saver mare’s next start would likely be the Spinster Stakes (G1) at Keeneland in her final tune-up for the World Championships.
“I had concerns when they were running at her because these are very good horses and they are in good form. It’s not easy,” Gutierrez said. “She don’t have nothing to show to nobody. I’m very pleased with the way she run. Every place that she’s run, with all the horses she run against, she’s fast. She fights and she’s a real racehorse.”
Letruska returned $3.50 to win, $3.10 to place, and $2.60 to show. Bonny South brought back $10.60 to place and $5.30 to show. Royal Flag paid $4.10 to show.
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