Though it will be a small field that lines up to contest the $700,000 Personal Ensign Stakes Presented by Lia Infiniti (G1) at Saratoga this Saturday, it will feature the country’s two best older dirt females. This matchup will be one of many highlights on the Travers Stakes (G1) card.
The two headlining horses will be the Steve Asmussen-trained Midnight Bisou and the Bill Mott-conditioned Elate. Midnight Bisou has been flawless this season, picking up five straight victories, including the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park two starts back. She has also defeated Elate twice this season (both at Oaklawn Park) in the Azeri Stakes (G3) and the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1). However, Elate comes into this race on a roll herself, winning twice since leaving Oaklawn Park. In her latest effort, she looked fully back to her old self, winning the Delaware Handicap (G1) by several lengths with ease. Elate has also performed tremendously well at Saratoga in the past, which adds to the drama building around this event.
The winner of the Personal Ensign Stakes will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. 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 California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
Here is a look at the full field:
#1 Midnight Bisou – It’s hard to find anything wrong with how well this filly has performed this year. Her most impressive effort came two races back in the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) when she dominated her competition on her way to a 3 1/2-length score. Last time out, she basically had a paid workout for this race, winning the Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3) without being asked for her best. She can pretty much lock up the Eclipse Award for Older Dirt Female of the Year with a victory in this spot.
#2 Coach Rocks – Trainer Dale Romans loves to take shots at big races like this at Saratoga. Coach Rocks has the class to give this race a shot as well, especially after running second to Midnight Bisou last time out in the Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park. Two races back, she defeated allowance/optional claiming company at Churchill Downs, and she faced several tough foes all throughout a 2018 campaign that included winning the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).
#3 She’s a Julie – Her season began strong with back-to-back wins at Oaklawn Park and Churchill Downs. The first came in the Bayakoa Stakes (G3), while her next was the biggest of her career, a determined victory in the La Troiennne Stakes (G1). After that win, she finished third in another Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, the Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2). Her latest effort was a third-place finish over this track in the Shuvee Stakes (G3).
#4 Elate – She is back to top form after struggling a bit to start the year. She already has a free ride into the Longines Distaff because she won the Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) two races back at Churchill Downs. Last time out, she gave the most impressive performance of her season so far, blowing out the competition in the Delaware Handicap (G2). However, she has lost twice to Midnight Bisou already this season, so she has her work cut out for her if she wants to turn the tables. She’s also suffered a pair of heart-breaking losses at this track in the past that she will also look to avenge here.
#5 Wow Cat – This filly knocked the rust off last time out in the Shuvee Stakes (G3), finishing a distant second to fellow rival Golden Award. She should show some improvement here, as that was her first start since finishing a solid second in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) last season. She was third in this race last year before going on to win the Beldame Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. She has posted three strong workouts since her 2019 debut.
#6 Golden Award – The winner of the local prep race will take a swing against bigger competition in this top-heavy race. Last time out in the Shuvee Stakes (G3), she romped home to a 2 1/4-length victory in wire to wire fashion. That race showed solid improvement from her previous start, which was a second-place effort in the DuPont Distaff Stakes (G3) at Pimlico on Preakness Stakes weekend. She’s earned the right to give this race a shot.
The Personal Ensign Stakes serves as one of three Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events this weekend at Saratoga, which include the Sword Dancers Stakes (Longines Turf) and Ballerina Stakes (Filly & Mare Sprint). Del Mar will also host a “Win and You’re In” event, the Pat O’Brien Stakes (Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile). The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on September 7 at Kentucky Downs with the running of the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (Turf Sprint) and at Belmont Park with the running of the Jockey Club Derby (Longines Turf).