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Check out our predictions and odds for the Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga!
C McGaughey III
R E Reid Jr
I Ortiz Jr
Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.
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In a meeting of champions, Goodnight Olive and Echo Zulu headline a field of eight older sprinting females set for Saturday’s Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes going 7 furlongs at Saratoga.
In their only previous meeting, it was Goodnight Olive who got the best of her rival when she won last fall’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Filly & Mare Cup Sprint at Keeneland.
The Chad Brown-trained daughter of Ghostzapper has made three starts this year with two wins and a tough luck third, all in graded stakes.
The defending race champion comes into Saturday’s test off a win in the Grade 2 Bed O’ Roses at Belmont Park two months ago and is in search of her fourth Grade 1 win overall.
Echo Zulu, meanwhile, comes into the Travers Day affair off two overpowering wins this season, including one at Saratoga, for trainer Steve Asmussen.
The 2-year-old filly champion of 2021 has won 8-of-10 overall and is 3-for-3 at Saratoga. Last month she romped home by more than seven lengths in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss.
A champion two years ago, her only two career losses came last year. It was a bit of a funny season for her in 2022, as she got off to a late start and then was pushed to make the Kentucky Oaks.
In last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, she was taken off the early lead which seems to go against her most natural style. Still, she ran a very good race.
When allowed to roll on the early lead, she has never been beaten, and despite all the talent in this race, the daughter of Gun Runner looks like the only one with blazing early speed.
She also seems to love the Saratoga track. Beating Goodnight Olive at 7-furlongs will be no easy task, but I like her chances to go wire-to-wire. She is the top pick.
The winner of this race and a champion last year, she will need to prove that she is still the best against the toughest competition on Saturday. She will also face the daunting task of having to chase and pass Echo Zulu.
She beat her last fall at Keeneland, but circumstances leading up to this race seem quite different than they did nine months ago. If not for bad racing luck, though, two starts back, the daughter of Ghostzapper could be on a nine-race winning streak.
She also clearly likes the 7-furlong distance of the Ballerina. It will be a true showdown between two outstanding female sprinters on Saturday. Because of the speed of Echo Zulu, I like this one only second best.
The female sprinting division is a strong one and this hard-hitting daughter of Gun Runner is a great example of that. She’s won more than half of her 15-lifetime starts, nearly $1.3 million, and has not run a poor race in well over a year.
Still, she is a bit of an afterthought behind the top two in the Ballerina. She comes off a facile win at Ellis Park and before that, she fought Goodnight Olive pretty equally in a pair of races in Kentucky and New York.
She’s also proven at the distance and perfect in two tries at Saratoga. Having said all that, I can only like her third best because of the excellence of the top pair.
Second to Goodnight Olive in this race last year, this daughter of Union Rags continues to run good races for trainer Bill Mott.
Most recently, she was right there with Goodnight Olive and Wicked Halo in the Bed O’ Roses. With good performances over the Saratoga track and a liking for 7-furlongs, she cannot be ignored on Saturday.
Likely to be in mid-pack early, she could make her presence known as they turn for home. Having said that, this race is loaded, and there are clearly a few I like better.
Trained by Brad Cox, this daughter of Pioneerof the Nile was a hot commodity last year until she came to Saratoga for the Grade 1 Test where she finished third as the heavy favorite. That defeat stopped an impressive four-race winning streak.
Returning this year, she has won once in three starts, but the win was a good one. She defeated Wicked Halo and Goodnight Olive in the Grade 1 Derby City Distaff but was definitely the beneficiary of racing luck that day.
Her most recent race was a disappointment and given her previous loss at Saratoga, I’m not going to pick her here, but at her best, she is in with a shot.
This daughter of Liam’s Map has been clearly beaten by several fillies in the race in her three starts this year.
To her credit, she did get second last time to Echo Zulu in the Honorable Miss, but she was still beaten by more than seven lengths.
Her only previous stakes win came in the slop, and I do not see much reason to expect a better performance than she has turned in her three defeats this year. In a field loaded with talent, I like her near the bottom in the Ballerina.
After a promising performance rallying for second behind Goodnight Olive in the Grade 1 Madison at Keeneland, she came up completely empty last out finishing nearly a dozen lengths behind Echo Zulu.
The race dynamics and distance are different this time around, so an improved effort could be in the making. A winner of five straight at Gulfstream Park before her solid run at the Madison, I have to believe that she is better than she showed last time.
If you are looking for a longshot to include in the exotics, she is an interesting candidate to hit the board at attractive odds.
The outsider of the eight-horse field, this daughter of Cupid ran ninth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint behind the two favorites at odds of nearly 80/1.
She has won two of her five races this year, but both came against allowance competition. The New York-bred did win over the track and at the distance last out, but it was only a four-horse field.
She seems to be in a spot here with very little chance and I find her hard to recommend against this class of competition.
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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