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Jockey Javier Castellano celebrates after winning the Personal Ensign Stakes aboard Miss Shop
The $400,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) is the feature race at Saratoga on the Friday before the Travers. A field of six older fillies and mares went in this 1 1/4 mile main track feature, with Unbridled Belle sent off as the 8-5 favorite after winning the Delaware Handicap by 7 1/2 lengths in her last start. In to challenge her was stablemate Indian Vale as the 2-1 second choice, winner of the Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs before finishing fifth in the Delaware Handicap. 9-2 Miss Shop rounded out the top three on the board, coming off a distant second place finish in the Go For Wand last out.
First time by with Sugar Shake out front with Teammate second.
6-1 fourth choice Sugar Shake went to the front right away and set a pace of 23.64, 47.70, and 1:11.81 while being stalked by 9-1 Teammate to her inside. Indian Vale and Unbridled Belle settled just off the pace, while Miss Shop trailed. Entering the stretch, the pacesetters tired and dropped from contention, allowing Indian Vale to inherit the lead through 1 mile in 1:36.81. Miss Shop came out widest of all on the far turn and closed with a rush, taking over the lead inside the 1/8 pole and drawing away to win by 3 lengths over Unbridled Belle in 2:03.48 over the fast track. It was just a length back to Indian Vale in third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Miss Shop Castellano 11.40 3.90 3.10 2 Unbridled Belle Dominguez 3.10 2.50 6 Indian Vale Velazquez 3.20 Winning Time: 2:03.48 $2 Exacta 5-2 37.60 $2 Trifecta 5-2-6 105.50
Miss Shop in the winner's circle. Her trainer H. Allen Jerkens said, "I didn't know if she could go this far. She has never shown that she could go that far. Javier told me the last time, 'Don't worry about her. She can get the distance.' She trained good and she ran good. Of course, he rode her great. It's amazing how many times (8) she has run as a 4-year-old, in this day and age. Today was her best race. She is good on firm turf or dirt. You have to think about the Breeders' Cup Distaff. They say Monmouth Park doesn't suit come-from-behind horses; I guarantee someone will come from behind some day."
Miss Shop in the post parade. Her jockey Javier Castellano said, "I was looking to lay back today. There was a lot of speed in the race. You had the speed of (Indian Vale) and Teammate and Sugar Shake. All three horses made a good pace for me today. I was worried about the first 1/4, but as soon as she relaxed for me, I was thinking that the race was over. She settled down beautifully. I wanted to be in that spot today. She did it so easy the first 1/2. She started picking up horses a little early today; right at the 3/8 and 1/4 pole, she was right behind the speed horses. I was worried that we passed them a little early in the stretch. But I had so much horse and she won very good today."
Second place finisher and beaten favorite Unbridled Belle returns after the race. Her jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "I thought we had a very good trip. I wanted to save some ground on the first part, and I was able to get her clear when I wanted. The other filly (Miss Shop) just out-ran us the last part. But my filly kept trying to the end, and I was pleased with her."
Third place finisher Indian Vale in the paddock. Her trainer Todd Pletcher said, "I thought both horses (Unbridled Belle and Indian Vale) ran well. Indian Vale was parked wide and lost ground around both turns, but that was just circumstantial."
Her jockey John Velazquez said, "We were in good position throughout the race. Coming for home, I thought we had a shot. Then, she got tired in the stretch. Perhaps 1 1/4 is a little too long for her."
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