Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes comes our way this Friday, August 22 from Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Fillies and mares three years old and upward will be featured as they go 1 1/8 miles on Saratoga's main track searching for the winner's share of the very nice $500,000 purse and an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
A small but stellar field of seven older females will line up in the Personal Ensign - race 9 on Saratoga's Friday card. Post time is 5:15 PM. Here is a look into the past performances of all seven entries for this lucrative Grade 1 stakes - all of which have at least one graded stakes score.
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2014 Personal Ensign Stakes Race Favorite Entries
Close Hatches - Bill Mott trainee made her stakes debut and recorded a terrific win over the stellar Princess of Sylmar in the Grade 2 Gazelle Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths at Aqueduct last April 6 after two prior starts resulted in two wins. She enters this weekend on a three race win streak - the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes last time out over Beholder and Princess of Sylmar, the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap in gate-to-wire fashion at Oaklawn Park April 11 followed and the Grade 2 Azeri Stakes in March. She ended her 2013 campaign with a second to Beholder in the Breeders' Cup Distaff after another two race win streak - the Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx September 21 and a 7 1/4 length score in the Grade 1 Mother Goose at Belmont Park in June of 2013. Close Hatches has won five of her last six starts against the best the division has to offer and will depart from post 6 as the 8-5 morning line favorite with Joel Rosario in the reins.
Princess Of Sylmar - stellar Todd Pletcher pupil has won 9 of her 14 starts with three seconds as well - impressive. She enters on the heels of consecutive second place finishes - the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap last time out July 12 after the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps behind Close Hatches June 7. Her other second came in the Grade 2 Gazelle Stakes to Close Hatches at Aqueduct April 6, 2013. She finished 2013 with a disappointing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff after four straight impressive wins - the Grade 1 Beldame over Royal Delta in September, the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes last August 17, the Grade 1 American Oaks July 20 at Saratoga and the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at 38-1 odds over Dreaming of Julia and Beholder. Other stakes wins include the minor Busher Stakes at Aqueduct February 2 and the Busanda Stakes by 7 1/2 lengths January 4. Princess Of Sylmar will look to get back to her winning ways after consecutive seconds and could be in good position to do so. Javier Castellano has been named to end the losing streak as Princess of Sylmar leaves from the outside post Friday looking to make it 3-for-3 at Saratoga. She is the 9-5 second choice.
Personal Ensign Stakes 2014 | Remaining Contenders
Antipathy - Kiaran McLaughlin trained filly has nine career starts with three wins, three seconds and two third place finishes and is coming off her first graded stakes score - the Grade 3 Shuvee Handicap on this track July 27 - after an OK third in her graded stakes debut - the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at 30-1 at Belmont Park in June. Before that was a pair of runner-up finishes in Allowance Optional Claiming races - the last coming May 1 after an Allowance Optional Claiming score in her first start of 2014 and her first start in 10 months - at Gulfstream January 31. Antipathy will go off as the 5-1 third choice from gate 1 with Irad Ortiz in the saddle.
Belle Gallantey - steadily improving entry has won four of her five starts of 2014 for trainer Rudy Rodriguez - a fifth in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park June 7 being the lone blemish. The wins include the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap last time out over Princess of Sylmar July 12, an Allowance Optional Claiming May 1, a Starter Allowance score and a win in an Allowance on January. She now has 41 career starts with eight wins, 12 seconds and seven third place finishes and looks better than any time in her long career. She departs from post 5 Saturday with Jose Ortiz aboard at 8-1 odds.
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Fiftyshadesofhay - Bob Baffert trained multiple graded stakes winner has been OK lately. She had three nice graded stakes wins in 2013 - the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel by 5 3/4 lengths last January 26, the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico May 17 and in the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks June 29 and also had a very nice second behind Beholder in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes last March 2. She also third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks April 6 last year behind Beholder. Fiftyshadesofhay struggled a tad to start this year but raced to a good win in the Grade 2 Ruffian Stakes in May. Since that win she has recorded a third in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap June 14 and a somewhat disappointing fourth last time out in the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes August 2. Overall Fiftyshadesofhay has five wins, four seconds and four thirds in 18 career starts and enters in so-so form. John Velazquez will be in the reigns looking for Fiftyshadesofhay's first Grade 1 score from gate 4.
Stanwyck - John Sherreffs trained filly made her stakes debut and won the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap at Belmont Park October 26 and followed that with an OK second in the minor Paseana Stakes behind Golden Production January 12 and an OK third in the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes on this track February 15. She has continued to look good lately - a second in the Grade 3 Shuvee Handicap last time out followed a pair of thirds - the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap in April and the Grade 1 Santa Margarita in March. Stanwyck enters having placed in her last six starts and will be looking for her first win since October. Rajiv Maragh gets the call from post 2.
Majestic River - impressive Todd Pletcher trained filly has five wins and a second place finish in eight career starts - four wins in five starts this year! She enters on a three race win streak including her graded stakes debut last time out - the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park July 27 and a nice win in the minor Lighthouse Stakes on that same track in June. Majestic River has been mighty impressive and will have Rosie Napravnik aboard from post 3 Friday.
2014 Personal Ensign Stakes Entries & Odds
Race 9 on Saratoga's Friday card with a Post Time of 5:15 PM.
|1||Antipathy||I. Ortiz, Jr.||K. McLaughlin|
|2||Stanwyck||R. Maragh||J. Shirreffs|
|3||Majestic River||R. Napravnik||T. Pletcher|
|4||Fiftyshadesofhay||J. Velazquez||B. Baffert|
|5||Belle Gallantey||J. Ortiz||R. Rodriguez|
|6||Close Hatches||J. Rosario||W. Mott|
|7||Princess of Sylmar||J. Castellano||T. Pletcher|