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Artemis Agrotera Toys With My Miss Aurelia in Ballerina

Ambitiously placed against older fillies and mares, 3-year-old Artemis Agrotera proved she ranks among the elite female sprinters in the country Saturday, toying with a talented field and running away to win the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina by 6 ½ lengths at Saratoga Race Course.


Trained by Mike Hushion, the Chester and Mary Broman homebred daughter of Roman Ruler came away fast from her inside post, moved to stalk outside of pace-setter La Verdad on the backside and by the five-sixteenths pole was in full flight.


She stormed past the tiring front-runner and widened her lead until jockey Rajiv Maragh eased up on her. They crossed the finish line in 1:21.89 for seven furlongs.


My Miss Aurelia, the tepid 3-1 favorite, rallied from fifth for second, 1 ¼ lengths in front of Willet. Better Lucky, La Verdad, Kipling's Joy, Geeky Gorgeous and Hot Stones followed.


The victory came in a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, and the soft-spoken Hushion said a trip to Santa Anita Park likely was in the plans.


"I heard that Mr. Broman told the last interviewer we were going," Hushion said. "It sounds good to me. To win a Grade 1 at Saratoga - it doesn't get any better than that."


The victory vindicated Hushion's belief that he had an exceptional filly in his barn, a belief tested when Artemis Agrotera finished eighth in the Grade 1 TVG Acorn in June at Belmont Park, her first race since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies seven months before.


Hushion said he did little more than ease up on Artemis Agrotera's training after the Acorn and before entering her against New York-breds in an optional claimer July 23 at seven furlongs to build her confidence.


The filly responded by rolling to a 10 ¼-length victory, and Hushion decided that was good enough for a shot in the Ballerina.


"I just lightened up on her a little," said Hushion, who also won the Grade 1 Frizette with Artemis Agrotera last fall at Belmont Park. "She's a filly that apparently does better off of light training than five-eighths [of a mile] in a minute every six days.


"You know, this filly has always acted like a special filly every day I've had her, so I was more confused by the couple of times she didn't run well and never surprised when she shows up big."


The Ballerina shaped up to be a battle between veteran stars My Miss Aurelia, the 2011 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly, and multiple Grade 1 winner Better Lucky versus a host of New York-bred speedsters, including Artemis Agrotera.


One of those New York breds, La Verdad, gunned to the lead and cut out opening fractions of 23.14 seconds for the quarter-mile and 45.78 for the half, while Artemis Agrotera tracked comfortably, with no other horse within 2 ½ lengths.


Even as My Miss Aurelia summoned a really, in the end, it was no contest.


"She was pretty dominant today and was much the best," Maragh said. "I was gearing down inside the sixteenth pole because she had the race wrapped up and was powering away. I don't think I squeezed the lemon dry; I think she has more to give."


The winner paid $10.60 for a $2 win bet as the 4-1 third choice. She won for the fourth time in six starts and the $300,000 purse pushed her lifetime earnings to $763,800.


Source: NYRA (John Scheinman)



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