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It’ll be a good ole fashion showdown at Saratoga this Saturday when Abel Tasman and Elate enter the gates for the Grade 1, $700,000 Personal Ensign Stakes. The race serves as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” event for the Longines Distaff and will also have major ramifications regarding the fight for the top spot in the Older Female Division. Last year, these two battled fiercely in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks. Abel Tasman crossed first by a neck before surviving a long inquiry into the stretch run, where she seemed to cut off Elate from making a rally up the rail. The rematch is sure to be one of the major highlights of a great day of racing at The Spa.
“We’re sending the big mare to take on Bill Mott,” Baffert said playfully. “Bill’s been braggin’ on her and that means he’s got her sharp and ready to go.”
The winner of the Personal Ensign will receive an automatic position in the Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff 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.
“Big Bob. Big Bob,” said Mott with a smile. “They were a head apart here last year [Abel Tasman edged Elate in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks], so it should be a good race.”
The Grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes will be one of many huge races at Saratoga this Saturday on a card that features seven graded stakes events in total. Along with the Personal Ensign Stakes, there are three other Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events: The Grade 1 Sword Dancer (Longines Turf), The Grade 1 Forego (Dirt Mile), and the Grade 1 Ballerina (Filly & Mare Sprint). 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: Abel Tasman, She Takes Heart, Fuhriously Kissed, Wow Cat, Farrell, and Elate.
#1 Abel Tasman – Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff runner-up is winding up for another big run at the year-end race. After struggling in her 2018 debut, she got back to her winning ways last time out with a massive 7 1/2-length score in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park. That type of effort signaled that she was back in a big way, and her works since then have shown that she is ready for this one, too.
#6 Elate – We’ve only seen her once so far in 2018, but that effort was a jaw-dropping performance in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap. She dominated her rivals by over 3 lengths to win in a very impressive performance off of an eight-month layoff, and logically, she should be even better here with that under her belt. Last year, she won the Alabama over this track by 5 1/2 lengths, which led to her going off as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
#4 Wow Cat – This Chad Brown-trained filly was all the rage when making her stateside debut after dominating the competition in her native Chile. She ran well but came up a little short in the Grade 3 Shuvee Stakes, finshing second by a neck to a loose-on-the-lead Farrell. There is a solid chance that she will improve in her second American start, but the competition stiffens in this spot. Still, Brown is showing confidence in her with this entry.
#5 Farrell – Speed is the name of the game for this filly, and if you let her loose on the lead, then she can be very difficult to pass. There is no better example of that than last time out when she won the Shuvee in wire-to-wire fashion over this track. That win came on the heels of back-to-back runner-up efforts in graded stakes races at Churchill Downs, so we know that she is in great form heading into this race.
#3 Fuhriously Kissed – Speaking of Loooch Racing being not afraid to take shots in big races, he has done that several times with Fuhriously Kissed. After being claimed for $62,500, this mare has been spotted in four straight graded stakes events, hitting the board in two of them. This is the toughest spot that she has faced, but she won’t be overwhelmed by the competition.
#2 She Takes Heart – This 5-year-old filly trained by Peter Walder is making her second graded stakes start in her 31st career race. She boasts just one victory in 2018, though she was a solid second last time out against Gulfstream Park allowance foes. Her owner, Loooch Racing, is no stranger to taking shots in big races.
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