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Breeders' Cup 2017

Informed Decision Heads Ballerina

Informed Decision takes the 2009 Chicago Handicap

Informed Decision, the reigning female sprint champion, heads a field of eight in Saturday’s 32nd renewal of the Grade 1, $250,000 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.


In a sloppy edition of the race last year, Informed Decision was third, behind 5 ¼-length winner Music Note and 2008 champion filly sprinter Indian Blessing.


As if to prove she simply did not care for the wet going that day, Informed Decision next reeled off three straight victories, bouncing back swiftly to win the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes two weeks later, followed by the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland on October 10 and the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint over the artificial surface at Santa Anita on November 6 in her final start of the year.


A 5-year-old daughter of Monarchos, Informed Decision has won eight graded stakes over synthetic tracks, but is also accomplished on dirt and excels at seven furlongs, never finishing outside of the trifecta in 10 starts at the Ballerina distance. 


“I’m anxious to see how she runs here, with the Breeders’ Cup being on dirt [at Churchill Downs] this year,” said Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, who trains the filly for Augustin Stables. “If she runs poorly and it looks like she won’t be able to hold on to her champion status, we might try two turns or turf with her, but if she runs a really good race here, then we’d point to the Breeders’ Cup with a race or two in between.”


Informed Decision has two wins and two third-place finishes from four starts this year, with one of her losses coming over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff, a race she was attempting to take for the second consecutive year.


Informed Decision, who will leave post position 4 as the 5-2 morning-line favorite with regular rider Julien Leparoux, breezed four furlongs in 48.40 over the Oklahoma training track on Wednesday morning.


“She’s moving well, she looks strong, sharp and happy,” Sheppard said. “She doesn’t necessarily have to blow the field away, but she’ll have to run pretty darn well.”


Informed Decision will meet a battle-tested foe in Jessica Is Back, who exits a two-length win in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney at Calder on July 10. It was the first graded stakes win for the 6-year-old daughter of Put It Back, who has eked out 12 wins from 44 lifetime starts at a wide range of distances. Her Princess Rooney triumph came on the heels of a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Fleur De Lis behind reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, and she has finished no worse than third in five starts this year.


Jessica Is Back, the 7-2 second-choice on the morning line, will be saddled by trainer Marty Wolfson, who also sends out First Passage. Third in her most recent start, the Emma Bovary at Calder Race Course on July 31, First Passage overcame a troubled trip to finish fourth behind Flashing in the 2009 edition of the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga.

“She ran huge last year in the Test,” Wolfson said of the late-running First Passage. “She should have won, but she got left at the gate. I think she really likes this track and she’s trained well up to the race. There’s a good pace scenario in this race – several horses with speed.”


First Passage, 15-1 on the morning line, gets the services of Jermaine Bridgmohan from the outside in post 8, while Jessica Is Back will be ridden by Elvis Trujillo from post 3.


Almost certain to be a pace factor on Saturday is the New York-bred Rightly So, who exits a win in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses on July 5 at Belmont Park, only her second start in graded company.


After breaking her maiden impressively in January 2009 at Aqueduct, Rightly So dominated her next four starts, stepping up into statebred allowance and stakes races to compile a five-race win streak. Shelved briefly after a win in the Love Is Eternal at Aqueduct on November 19, Rightly So finished third in her first start of the year in the Broadway Stakes over the inner track. She followed that effort with a pair of second-place stakes finishes – one in the Grade 2 Vagrancy, her first open company try – before the Bed o’ Roses.


“She’s always been a talented, nicer kind of horse,” trained Tony Dutrow said of the Zayat Stables colorbearer, who has a record of 6-3-1 from 10 starts between six furlongs and a mile. “I thought she had earned the opportunity to run in graded company this year. She handled it, and proved in her next start that she could consistently handle it, but this is a Grade 1 and she has not competed against Grade 1 horses yet.”


Rightly So has also never been far from the lead, and Dutrow acknowledges that she is vulnerable if caught in a speed duel early.


“Then again, I’ve seen her go way too fast, way too early and hang on,” he said. “She’s got a lot to prove here, and maybe she will.”


Cornelio Velasquez will ride from the rail.


Qualia, the runner-up in the Bed o’ Roses will attempt to turn the tables on Rightly So in the Ballerina. The lightly-raced, 4-year-old daughter of Saarland has never finished worse than second in six starts, primarily in allowance company.

Completing the field are Warbling, who finished third after missing the break in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss at Saratoga on August 8; Pretty Prolific, fourth in that race, and Devil by Design, winner of the Lucy Scribner Stakes here on July 29.


The field for the Grade 1, $250,000 Ballerina Stakes:








Rightly So (NY)

C H Velasquez


A W Dutrow



Warbling (KY)

J Castellano


E Kenneally



Jessica Is Back (FL)

E Trujillo


M D Wolfson



Informed Decision (KY)

J R Leparoux


J E Sheppard



Qualia (KY)

R Maragh


R Ribaudo



Pretty Prolific (KY)

E S Prado


K G McPeek



Devil by Design (KY)

K J Desormeaux


W I Mott



First Passage (KY)

J V Bridgmohan


M D Wolfson










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