Eblouissante, the younger half-sister of champion Zenyatta, is ready to return to the races. Off since extending her record to 2-for-2 on January 17 in California, the 4-year-old daughter of Bernardini was one of seven fillies and mares entered in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 84 Lumber Shuvee Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.
The 1 1/8-mile Shuvee joins the Grade 1, $300,000 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks in headlining Saturday's 11-race card, and will be run as race 9.
Eblouissante, whose name means “dazzling” in French, did not make her debut until late in her 3-year-old season, posting an easy 4 ¼-length victory going 1 1/16 miles on Betfair Hollywood Park's synthetic surface. Two months later, she scored by 1 ¾ lengths at the same distance in an optional claimer at Santa Anita Park, and has been training forwardly at Belmont Park since her arrival from the West coast, most recently breezing seven furlongs in 1:27.18 on July 14.
“After she arrived here she has started to fill out,” said trainer John Shirreffs of Eblouissante, an imposing filly who stands nearly 17 hands tall. “She has grown a lot and has put on a significant amount of weight, so I'm really happy with the way she has developed over the last month. She looks strong. I think time is the most important ingredient in a horse's development. Their bodies need a chance to catch up.”
Eblouissante, who was also under consideration for an optional claimer around two turns on July 22 at the Spa, drew post position 3 for the Shuvee with Junior Alvarado named to ride. She was listed at 4-1 on the morning line.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won last year's Shuvee with Awesome Maria, has entered Padua Stables' Authenticity, the 7-5 morning-line favorite. The 6-year-old mare, unraced in 2012, is 2-2-1 in five starts this year for Pletcher, including a victory in the Grade 2 La Troienne on May 3 at Churchill Downs and a pair of seconds in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park and the Grade 3 Rampart at Gulfstream Park.
“She's been extremely consistent,” said Pletcher of Authencity, who was cross-entered in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap. “She's a very straightforward mare to train; push button. It's a drop down from a Grade 1 but it doesn't appear to be an easy race if everyone shows up. We're not anticipating they're going to give anything away at Saratoga; they usually don't.”
Authenticity drew post position 7 with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard.
Drawing adjacent were the 1-2 finishers in the Grade 3 Allaire DuPont Distaff on May 18 at Pimlico Race Course, with winner Summer Applause in post position 6 and Sea Island directly inside.
Owned by Gillian S. Campbell, the 4-year-old Summer Applause won the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap in March at Aqueduct Racetrack in her first start for trainer Chad Brown and next finished fourth in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.
“She's training well,” said Brown of Summer Applause, who also was cross-entered in the Delaware Handicap. The filly was listed as the 2-1 second choice on the morning line for the Shuvee, with Javier Castellano named to ride.
Sea Island, who won an optional claimer at the Shuvee distance last summer, launched her 4-year-old campaign with a second in a turf allowance at Keeneland Race Course prior to the DuPont. Most recently she finished last of six over a sloppy track in the Mariensky overnight stakes at Belmont for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.
At 10-1 on the morning line, the Phipps Stable color-bearer will be ridden by Jose Lezcano.
Rounding out the field are Flashy American, winner of the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows last time out; Moon Philly, fifth in the DuPont, and Royal Lahaina, winner of the Mariensky.
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