Barring mishap or mayhem, Songbird is coming back to Saratoga Race Course to run in the Personal Ensign Stakes (Gr.1) on August 26. Contested on the main track over 1 1/8 miles, the depth of the field nominated for this year’s race makes it as interesting, if not more so, than the Travers Stakes. Not only is the $700,000 in purse money up for grabs, the Personal Ensign is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race; the winner gets a fee-free berth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and travelling expenses.
Although Songbird may dominate the headlines, the likes of Terra Promessa, who won the the Shuvee Handicap (gr.3) earlier in the Saratoga meet, Forever Unbridled and Martini Glass will challenge her. The New York Racing Association shared a conversation with Songbird’s owner Rick Porter:
I want to run at Saratoga. It's my favorite track to run at and I think it's the right race for her anyway: the timing is right, the purse is right, and she's run well there.
We're going to hook Forever Unbridled, Carina Mia, and whoever else is coming, so it's not going to be a pushover race. But according to Mr. Hollendorfer, she couldn't be doing any better. She worked in 1:01 and they gave her a 'breezing,' which is pretty hard to get at Del Mar. Jerry said she went around the track like she was just jogging around.
I asked Jerry the other day to compare her to how she was a week or two before the Breeders' Cup and he said, 'I got to tell you, Rick, she is better than she's ever been. These two races have just got her in the position where she couldn't be more fit.’ If it weren't for that whisker, she'd be undefeated, but she's still something special.
The fillies and mares nominated for the 2017 Personal Ensign Stakes (Gr.1) are:
(Entrant, color/gender.age, Owner, Trainer)
BLUE PRIZE (ARG), ch.f.4, Merriebelle Stable, Ignacio Correas, IV
CARINA MIA, dk b/.f.4, Three Chimneys Farm, Chad C. Brown
DISTINTA, ch.m.5, Veb Racing Stable Corp, Todd A. Pletcher
ESKENFORMONEY, dk b/.m.5, StarLadies Racing, Todd A. Pletcher
FAITHFULLY, dk b/.f.4, Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings, Inc., Bob Baffert
FLORA DORA, ch.f.4, Coffee Pot Stables, Marialice Coffey
FOREVER UNBRIDLED, b.m.5, Charles E. Fipke, Dallas Stewart
GOING FOR BROKE, b.f.4, Waterford Stable, Chad C. Brown
LIGHTSTREAM, b.f.4, Uphill Stable, Brian A. Lynch
MARTINI GLASS, b.f.4, Vince Campanella, Keith Nations
SMILE BIG, dk b/.f.4, Vincent S. Scuderi, Rudy R. Rodriguez
SONGBIRD, dk b/.f.4, Fox Hill Farm, Jerry Hollendorfer
TERRA PROMESSA, b.f.4, Stonestreet Stables, Steven M. Asmussen