An accomplished field of seven fillies and mares will contest the $300,000 Ballerina (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday.
The pace will be rapid, with #1 Serengeti Empress, #2 Cookie Dough, and #5 Letruska each being sent from the opening bell. I expect Serengeti Empress to grab the early edge over her two pace foes in a sizzling opening quarter-mile.
#1 SERENGETI EMPRESS — Reigning Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine draws the rail and gets the nod to lead the field at every call. Tom Amoss pupil is something of an all-or-nothing type, but the free-wheeling speedster ran a big second in the Test (G1) on the course last season, and she seems like an ideal fit at 7 furlongs as well. Good gate pilot Luis Saez inherits the mount.
#2 COOKIE DOUGH — Royal Delta queen (G3) was a non-factor in the Apple Blossom (G1) most recently in advance of her second try at Saratoga. Speedy 4-year-old lands in a difficult spot with other early pace in the cast, and she would be a surprise with Johnnie V in the silks.
#3 VICTIM OF LOVE — Speightstown filly upset the Vagrancy (G3) last time out for Beattie. Dark bay filly has been in solid form this campaign, and she could challenge for a placing with a well-timed ride from Jose Lezcano.
#4 BELLAFINA — Millionaire daughter of Quality Road has been first or second in four of her last five tries for Callaghan. 4-year-old has yet to run her best outside of California, but she has the right running style for the race and had a good prep for this affair as well. Jose Ortiz riding adds to the appeal.
#5 LETRUSKA — Mexican Group 1 vixen has impressed in winning 3-of-5 since arriving in the States for Gutierrez. Daughter of Super Saver has big early speed, but she might have to win from off the pace for the initial time in her U.S. career. Kentucky-bred bay will have Santana in the controls.
#6 PINK SANDS — McGaughey charge is a one-run closer who could fall into a very good trip in the Ballerina. Inside Information (G2) victress offered little in the deep Ogden Phipps (G1) most recently, but I expect big improvement on Saturday from the 5-year-old mare. Daughter of Tapit is a winner on the surface and will be moving best of all late under Irad.
#7 COME DANCING — Defending champ was a stylish winner of the race in 2019, but she faces a taller task in a strong field this campaign. Malibu Moon 6-year-old has yet to regain the superb form she had in 2019, but she could peak in her third assignment off the layoff following a good second in the Vagrancy last out. Castellano will guide the win contender.
- $10 Exacta: 1 with 4,6,7 ($30)
- $2 Trifecta: 1 with 6 with all ($10)