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Four-time graded stakes winner Come Dancing will look to win a race at historic Saratoga Race Course for a third consecutive year, returning to the site of her lone Grade 1 win when she competes in the six-furlong Grade 2, $150,000 Honorable Miss Handicap for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up going six furlongs on Sunday, September 6.
One of three stakes on the final Sunday of the 40-day Saratoga meet, the 29th running of the Honorable Miss joins the featured Grade 1, $250,000 Spinaway Stakes for juvenile fillies and the $85,000 Key Cents for 4-year-olds and up on the turf as part of the 12-race card.
Race 10 at Saratoga on Sunday, September 6 - Post 5:45 PM
|1||Come Dancing||8-5||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|3||Pink Sands||6-1||Jose Ortiz
|Claude McGaughey III|
|4||Unholy Alliance||10-1||Luis Saez
|Saffie Joseph, Jr.|
|5||Bye Bye J||15-1||Junior Alvarado
|6||Pacific Gale||10-1||Dylan Davis
|7||Lady's Island||9-2||Jose Lezcano
Blue Devil Racing Stable's Come Dancing won all of her graded stakes races across all three NYRA-operated tracks during a stellar 5-year-old campaign in 2019, with none of the victories by less than 3 1/4 lengths. The Malibu Moon mare started that stretch with a 7 ¾-length win in the Grade 3 Distaff last April at Aqueduct Racetrack before a 6 ¾-length romp in the Grade 2 Ruffian in May at Belmont. Staying on form, Come Dancing won the Grade 1 Ballerina going seven furlongs last August and registered another win in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom back at Belmont last September.
As a 6-year-old, Come Dancing returned off a five-month layoff to run 12th in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 Apple Blossom in April at Oaklawn Park. Returning sprinting, she rebounded to run second behind Victim of Love in the Grade 3 Vagrancy on June 27 at Belmont.
A wide trip contributed to a fourth-place finish this year's edition of the Grade 1 Ballerina, won by Serengeti Empress, though she still earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure to mark her highest number in four races. With a rider change to Irad Ortiz, Jr., Come Dancing will look for a less circuitous trip.
"She's doing well and she's thriving with the cooler temperatures here in Saratoga the last week," Martin said. "I can see she's turning the corner. I didn't think it was that bad of an effort last time. She's trained sensational for this race. Maybe it took her a few starts just to get it all tight. I'm excited about running her. She's been sharp as can be and looks great. Her coat is good and her attitude is good.
"I don't think it was a disgrace to get beaten three lengths by Serengeti Empress," he added. "If you see the replay, I really think Come Dancing can still be a top-echelon filly if we can just get things straightened out here after Sunday."
At 17 hands, Come Dancing boasts impressive size, contributing to her 8-3-0 record and earnings of $1.1 million in 17 starts. Martin said he put a line through her Apple Blossom performance in her seasonal bow. After running sixth in last year's Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita to cap her 2019, Martin said he would like to have his charge in position for a return trip in this year's running in November at Keeneland.
"After the Oaklawn debacle, she came back well in the Vagrancy and Ballerina, so for me, this is like the third race back off the layoff and hopefully we'll have a great one on Sunday," Martin said. "Then, we can get her ready for a prep at Keeneland for the Breeders' Cup, or the Gallant Bloom again. But I'm excited because I've had her since she was a 2-year-old, and she's never been better as far as I can see as far as training and visually in the mornings."
Come Dancing drew post 1.
Gainesway Stable and Andrew Rosen's Pink Sands will also be wheeled back after the Ballerina, finishing sixth in the seven-horse field. But the 5-year-old Tapit mare has won a pair of graded stakes since December, capturing both the Grade 3 Rampart to cap her 2019 campaign and making her seasonal bow a winning one in the Grade 2 Inside Information in January at Gulfstream Park.
Conditioned by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Pink Sands will be making her ninth graded stakes appearance overall and third at Saratoga, starting with a fourth in the 2019 Grade 3 Shuvee.
"She was coming off a bit of a layoff last time. I've gotten into her a little bit since that race. We've picked her training up a little bit and we'll just have to see if she still wants to do it," McGaughey said.
Her graded stakes score earlier this year could bolster her career as a potential broodmare, though with a pair of Beyers that have exceeded 90 in the last 10 months, McGaughey isn't looking past her racing career just yet.
"She won a Grade 2 so she's got a lot going for her," McGaughey said.
Jose Ortiz will be in the irons from post 3.
Cleber J. Massey's Blamed, a two-time graded stakes winner, ran second last out to Indian Pride in the Shine Again going seven furlongs on July 17 at the Spa. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has switched the daughter of Blame from routes to sprints interchangeably, with Blamed winning at both one mile and 6 ½ furlongs this year.
Blamed won three consecutive stakes races as a sophomore in 2018 at Sunland Park and also won the Game 3 Comely that November at Aqueduct Racetrack. Last year, she added a victory in the Grade 3 Royal Delta at Gulfstream and will now look to become a graded stakes winner at 3, 4 and 5.
Joel Rosario will pick up the mount, drawing post 2.
The ultra-consistent Bye Bye J, the winner of the Saylorville in July at Prairie Meadows, is 6-2-1 in 11 career starts. Conditioned by Hall of Fame Steve Asmussen, Bye Bye J has won two of her three starts in her 4-year-old year, starting the campaign with a win in the Downthedustyroad Breeders' in February at Oaklawn and ran second at the same track in April.
Junior Alvarado will have the call from post 4.
Rounding out the field is Pacific Gale, third in the Grade 3 Vagrancy and second last out against optional claimers on July 31 at the Spa, for trainer John Kimmel [post 6, Dylan Davis]; Unholy Alliance, who has two wins in three starts this year, including in her previous appearance on the final day of July, for conditioner Saffie Joseph, Jr. [post 4, Luis Saez]; and Lady's Island, who has 16 wins in 31 starts and is now trained by Danny Gargan [post 7, Jose Lezcano].
The Honorable Miss is slated as Race 10 on the 12-race card with a post time of 5:45 p.m. Eastern.
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