SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Cavorting, undefeated in three graded stakes around one turn at Saratoga Race Course, seeks her first two-turn victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Personal Ensign.
The five-horse field features four Grade 1 winners, each with earnings in excess of $1 million. The 1 1/8-mile main track race serves as a designated Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event for the Longines Distaff at Santa Anita in November.
Stonestreet Stables' Cavorting is a winner of 7-of-12 career starts, with earnings topping $1.6 million. The 4-year-old daughter of Bernardini won the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga as a 2-year-old, and the following season emerged victorious in both the Grade 1 Test and Grade 2 Prioress.
The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Cavorting enters the Personal Ensign off back-to-back wins in one-turn races at Belmont Park; the Grade 2 Ruffian and Grade 1 Ogden Phipps. In both those starts, the filly sat off the pace and unleashed monster runs.
McLaughlin, who is seeking his first Personal Ensign win, admitted to some trepidation in advance of the filly's first two-turn test.
"We hope she settles toward the rear again and makes a big run," McLaughlin said. "The distance isn't a big deal, but two turns is different.
"In my experience as a trainer at Belmont Park and coming here, you have those few horses who want one turn, not two," he added. "Cavorting might be one of those, but we hope not. It can happen, but you don't know until you try."
Javier Castellano will ride Cavorting from post 5.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Curalina is a Grade 1 winner around one and two turns. The Todd Pletcher-trained filly won the two-turn, Grade 1 La Troienne at Churchill Downs in May. As a 3-year-old, she captured the Grade 1 Acorn at one mile at Belmont Park. Her 2015 campaign also featured a Grade 1 score at Saratoga, when she was elevated to first in the Coaching Club American Oaks upon the disqualification of the winner, I'm a Chatterbox, for interference.
Curalina enters the Personal Ensign following a runaway victory in the Grade 3 Shuvee earlier in the Saratoga meet. She won the 1 1/8-mile race by 9 1/4 lengths on a sloppy and sealed track, defeating three rivals.
"For as convincingly as she won, she was geared down the last part and won pretty easily," said Pletcher, who seeks his third Personal Ensign victory. "I thought she bounced out of it really well."
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has the call from post 2.
While Pletcher doesn't believe his filly is by any means one-dimensional in her running style, he acknowledged she likely will be forwardly placed.
"I think her natural high cruising speed will put her into the race - she is not a need-the-lead type - but she seems to run her best when you allow her to get into a high cruising speed and a comfortable rhythm," Pletcher said.
Florent Geroux, who piloted Cavorting to victory in the Ogden Phipps, will partner again with I'm a Chatterbox, a horse he has ridden in the majority of her starts. I'm a Chatterbox, the winner of the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap in her last start, didn't have the best of luck at Saratoga last year.
The Larry Jones-trained filly, owned by Carolyn and Fletcher Gray, won the 2015 Ccoaching Club American Oaks by a nose over Curalina, but was placed second after it was determined by the stewards that she interfered with the runner-up in the stretch run. I'm a Chatterbox returned to finish second in the Grade 1 Alabama, Saratoga's signature race for 3-year-old fillies.
Forever Unbridled, who became a Grade 1 winner earlier this year in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, finished second in the Ogden Phipps, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Cavorting. The Personal Ensign marks the Saratoga debut for the Dallas Stewart-trained filly, whose younger brother Forever d'Oro will run in the Travers. Forever Unbridled's older sister, Unbridled Forever, won the Grade 1 Ballerina here last year.
Completing the field is Paid Up Subscriber, who finished second to I'm a Chatterbox in the Delaware Handicap after a rough break leaving the starting gate. Trainer Al Stall, Jr. was very pleased with his charge's final work for the Personal Ensign, a bullet six furlongs in 1:12.16, August 19.
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