A select field with a decided international flavor will assemble Saturday for the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa for turf fillies and mares, one of six stakes on the undercard of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers at Saratoga Race Course.
Saratoga's leading trainer, Chad Brown, who has won four of the past seven editions of the Ballston Spa, has entered three: European import Mascha, multiple graded stakes winner Significant Form, and Fifty Five, whom he may scratch from Friday's Yaddo to run on Saturday.
Mascha went from last to first in her stateside and 4-year-old debut, a 1 1/16-mile allowance on July 31. In four starts last year in Europe, she won the Kronimus Diana-Trial at Baden Baden and finished second in the Group 3 Prix de Psyche at Deauville.
“She's an exciting prospect,” said Brown, who also had been pointing Rushing Fall to the Ballston Spa but withdrew her from consideration after she posted a sub-par workout. “I think she's earned the right to step up in this Grade 2 race.”
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be aboard Mascha, who drew Post 9, while Significant Form, fifth in the Caress on July 21 after winning the Grade 3 Intercontinental at Belmont Park, was assigned Post 4 with John Velazquez.
Fifty Five, winner of four of her past five starts, including the Ticonderoga, Plenty of Grace, John Hettinger and Mount Vernon, drew Post 2. Javier Castellano was named to ride.
Indian Blessing returns to the Spa for a second shot in the 1 1/16-mile race, having finished third last year. Trained by Ed Walker for Mr. P. K. Siu, the 5-year-old Sepoy mare racked up two other thirds in her 2018 American foray, including the Grade 3 Athenia at Belmont Park and the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland.
Most recently, she was second in the Group 2 RaceBets.de Meilen Trophy on July 21 at Hamburg, having finished third in the Group 2 Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Brownstown Stakes at Fairyhouse a week earlier. Her lone victory this year came in the Maggie Dickson Stobo Castle Ladies Day Gold Cup on June 1 at Musselberg.
Florent Geroux will ride from Post 5
The stakes-placed Scottish Jig will make her third stateside start and first in a graded stakes for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Winner of an optional claimer in her debut on May 19 at Belmont, the Juddmonte Farms color-bearer returned to finish third in the 1 1/2-mile River Memories on July 5.
She will leave from Post 7 with Joel Rosario in the irons.
Representing trainer Graham Motion will be the Heider Family Stables' Secret Message, who enters off a fourth-place finish behind Sistercharlie, Rushing Fall and Homerique in the Grade 1 Diana on June 13. Prior to that, the Hat Trick filly won the Grade 2 Nassau at Woodbine and the listed Dahlia at Laurel Park.
“I think she was a little unlucky in the Diana; she got into a bit of trouble at the top of the stretch,” said Motion. “She could have gotten third. She did well, and I feel very good about running her.”
Jose Ortiz has the mount and the pair will leave from Post 3.
Starship Jubilee, beaten less than a length by Secret Message in the Nassau, makes her first appearance at the Spa for Canadian trainer Kevin Attard. Claimed for $16,000 by Attard's father, Tino, in February 2016 at Gulfstream Park, the Indy Wind mare went on to claim Grade 2 victories at Woodbine in the Nassau and Dance Smartly in 2017 and the Canadian last year.
“I think she's been able to stay at the top of her game for a while,” said Attard, whose lone start at the Spa came in 2016 when Calgary Cat finished fifth in the Troy. “Her best race, in my opinion, was the Canadian last year. This will be her first start outside south Florida and Canada, and the competition will be different, but I believe she's earned a shot.”
She will leave from post 8 and will have the services of Jose Lezcano.
Rounding out the field are Hogans Holiday, winner of the Miss Liberty on May 26 at Monmouth Park, who will be ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr., from the rail, and Conquest Hardcandy, a recent allowance winner at the Spa seeking her first stakes victory. Trained by Jim Ryerson, she drew Post 6 under Tyler Gaffalione.
The Ballston Spa is slated as Race 8 on Saturday's 13-race Travers Day card which features seven stakes and six Grade 1s, including the $1.25 million Runhappy Travers; $850,000 Sword Dancer; $700,000 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti; $600,000 Forego presented by Encore Boston Harbor; $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina; and $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial presented by Runhappy. First post is 11:35 a.m.
The “Mid-Summer Derby” will be televised live on FOX from 5-6 p.m. Eastern. Undercard coverage will also be televised on a special Travers Day edition of Saratoga Live, airing nationally on FS2 from 11:30-5 p.m. ET. Regional coverage of Saturday's Saratoga Live can be found on MSG+, FOX Sports Prime Ticket and Altitude.
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