Diana & Sanford
Saratoga Opening Day
Yellow Ribbon Hcp.
Joel Rosario and trainer Bill Mott celebrate after Close Hatches wins the Personal Ensign
Travers & King's Bishop
Ballerina & Ballston Spa Stakes
On the day before the Travers Stakes, a field of 7 older fillies and mares contested the $500,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on the Saratoga main track, a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" for the Distaff (formerly Ladies' Classic). 24,088 fans came out despite intermittent showers and unusually cool temperatures in the mid 60's, with the track downgraded to muddy. Close Hatches was sent off as the 9-5 favorite off her 3 race winning streak including the Azeri (G2), Apple Blossom (G1), and Ogden Phipps (G1). In to challenge her included 2-1 second choice Princess of Sylmar, second in both the Ogden Phipps and the Delaware Handicap (G1), and 3-1 third choice Antipathy, winner of the Shuvee Handicap (G3).
Close Hatches draws away in the stretch.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 6 Close Hatches Rosario 5.90 3.30 2.70 4 Fiftyshadesofhay Velazquez 11.00 5.60 2 Stanwyck Maragh 4.00 Winning Time: 1:50.62 $2 Exacta 6-4 75.00 $2 Trifecta 6-4-2 361.50 $2 Superfecta 6-4-2-1 1,488.00
Left: Close Hatches in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bill Mott said, "My instructions to Joel were to be wherever he was comfortable. We didn't know who might try to go to the lead. We thought Antipathy or Majestic River might try to go to the lead. He gave them the opportunity going into the first turn. We were laying second going into first turn, but (Close Hatches) was full of run. (Irad Ortiz) kind of snugged (Antipathy) up, it looked like, and took a little bit of a hold of her, and we inherited the lead. She's already a Grade 1 winner, and she just carried on that tradition today." Our plan right now, and has been since Keeneland went back to dirt, was to go to the Spinster."
Right: Close Hatches heads back to the barn after the race.
Left: Close Hatches in the paddock. Winning jockey Joel Rosario said, "I did not expect it to be wire-to-wire. It looked like another horse was going to go to the lead. It looked like Irad took a little hold of Antipathy and I just took my position. Turning for home, I expected Princess of Sylmar to show up, but she didn't. My horse looked good out there; she was doing it nice and easy and it was a good race for her. She's a nice filly with a long stride. I'm not surprised she went that fast."
Right: Close Hatches heads out to the track before the race.
Second place finisher Fiftyshadesofhay heads out to the track. The 15-1 shot was bumped at the start, settled in 4th under jockey John Velazquez, then passed tired horses to get second beaten 5 lengths. The Bob Baffert trainee improved her record to 5 wins, 5 seconds, and 4 thirds in 19 starts, earning $1,085,951 for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman.
Right: Third place finisher Stanwyck returns after the race. The 8-1 fourth choice was unhurried in 6th under jockey Rajiv Maragh, then rallied late to get third beaten 8 3/4 lengths. The John Shirreffs trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 3 seconds, and 7 thirds in 16 starts, earning $454,250 for owners Jerry and Ann Moss.
Fifth place finisher Princess of Sylmar shortly after the start of the race. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "I guess she just didn't like the mud; I really don't have the answer. She had a beautiful spot today, and on the backside she was really running, but when she got to the quarter pole she was done. I didn't have horse at all. I think the blinkers helped a lot. She used to be too far back, and with the blinkers she was a little more into the race. It just wasn't her day today."
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