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Champion Turf Mare Sistercharlie will kick off her 2020 campaign in the 32nd running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Ballston Spa Stakes for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles over the Mellon turf at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, July 25.
Trained by Chad Brown and owned by Peter Brant, Sistercharlie has put together a sensational record of 15-10-3-1, including seven Grade 1 triumphs while boasting $3,662,003 in lifetime earnings.
In 2018, the daughter of Myboycharlie was named Champion Turf Female after winning all four of her Grade 1 efforts that year, which registered triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures.
Two starts after kicking off her subsequent championship-worthy year with a victory in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland, she mimicked such winning ways in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga en route to Grade 1 scores in the Beverly D. at Arlington Park and the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs, where she beat six Grade/Group 1 winners.
Race 3 at Saratoga on Saturday, July 25 - Post 2:18 PM
|1||Call Me Love (GB)||5-1||Joel Rosario
|2||Bramble Queen||30-1||Manuel Franco
|3||North Broadway||30-1||Tyler Gaffalione
|4||Another Broad||6-5|| Rider TBA
|5||Sistercharlie (IRE)||2-5||John Velazquez
|6||Starship Jubilee||2-1||Javier Castellano
Sistercharlie did not return to action until July 2019, where she notched repeat victories in the Diana and Beverly D. before winning the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park, where she joined 2010 Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Zenyatta [who won nine straight] as the only other North American-based horse to win six straight Grade 1 events.
She has not raced since November, finishing third to Iridessa in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.
"She's been training really well," said Brown, who is targeting a sixth Ballston Spa victory. "It's only a mile and a sixteenth, which is a little shorter than the Diana was last year, but she did it a couple of years ago in the Jenny Wiley. She's been ready to run for a little while now. It's great that he [Peter Brant] decided to race her as a 6-year-old. To have a star horse like this in training is good for the entire industry, so hopefully she has another great year."
Sistercharlie has been training forwardly for Brown into her 2020 debut, most recently working a half-mile over the Oklahoma turf course in company with Eliade, completing the distance in 50.44 seconds.
"She did well. It was a final piece of work to get her to stretch her legs. She seems ready to go," Brown said.
Bred in Ireland by Ecurie Des Monceaux, Sistercharlie is out of the Galileo broodmare Starlet's Sister and is a half-sister to Sottsass, a dual Group 1-winner in France.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has been aboard Sistercharlie in all 10 of her North American starts and will have the call from post 5 as he attempts his sixth Ballston Spa triumph.
Brown also will send out maiden special weight winner North Broadway for Brant. The dark bay daughter of Quality Road was a 3 ½-length winner of her second career start on May 20 over the turf at Gulfstream Park before facing winners at Monmouth Park, where she was rank in the early stages, tracked in second and faded to sixth, beaten seven lengths as the favorite.
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will pilot North Broadway from post 3.
Trainer Christophe Clement has enjoyed a superb start to the Saratoga meet, saddling two turf stakes winners with Decorated Invader in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame and Speaktomeofsummer in the Grade 2 Lake Placid on back-to-back days, and will seek to keep such winning ways afloat when giving Call Me Love (GB) a cutback in distance.
Owned by R Unicorn Stable, the chestnut daughter of Sea the Stars is a two-time group stakes winner in Italy and seeks her first triumph since winning the Group 2 Premio Lydia Tesio on November 3. After making her North American debut with a runner-up finish to Rushing Fall going a mile and a sixteenth in the Grade 3 Beaugay on June 5 at Belmont Park, she finished fourth beaten eight lengths in the Grade 2 New York going 1 ¼ miles.
Clement will attempt a third win in the Ballston Spa having previously won with Danish  and Penny's Gold .
Jockey Joel Rosario will pilot Call Me Love from post 1.
Blue Heaven Farm's reigning Canadian Horse of the Year Starship Jubilee has done no wrong in her trio of starts this season and has not finished worse than third in her last 10 races. The Florida-bred bay mare will try to keep a consistent pattern intact while attempting an eighth graded stakes victory for trainer Kevin Attard.
Starship Jubilee has captured all three starts in her 7-year-old campaign, beginning at Gulfstream with scores in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf in January and the Grade 3 Suwanee River in February before taking the Grade 2 Hillsborough last out on March 7 at Tampa Bay Downs.
Attard said a planned layoff coincided with the interruption to the national stakes calendar amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We were planning on giving her a break anyway. We wanted to keep her fresh for this year," said Attard. "At one point, we were pointing toward the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland in April but then COVID took over and plans changed. We sent her to the farm after her race at Tampa and she had a bit of a freshening before we got her back into training."
Starship Jubilee enters Saturday's test off a four-month layoff, but her ledger includes eight works at Woodbine topped by a bullet half-mile breeze in 47.40 on July 18 on the dirt training track.
"I think she's ready. It took her a little bit longer to come around, but she is getting a little bit older," said Attard. "Her last few works have been good and I saw enough in her last work that I think she's ready to ship and compete."
Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano was aboard Starship Jubilee in her last out Hillsborough victory and retains the mount breaking from post 6.
Completing the field is Ballybrit Stable's Bramble Queen, who arrives off allowance optional claiming victories at Tampa Bay Downs and Delaware Park for trainer Michael Dini.
The 5-year-old Silent Name mare owns one stakes triumph, which took place in last year's Illini Princess Handicap at Hawthorne.
Jockey Jose Lezcano, who guided Laughing to a Ballston Spa score in 2013, will be aboard Bramble Queen from post 2.
Another Broad [post 4] has been entered for main track only.
The Ballston Spa is slated as Race 3 on Saturday's 11-race card, which offers a first post of 1:10 p.m. Eastern.
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