BALLERINA STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | FILLIES & MARES | GRADE 1 | 7 FURLONGS
Turbulent Descent made her first start for her new connections a winning one Aug. 24, taking the $500,000 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga Race Course by 1 1/4 lengths and punching her ticket to the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
The daughter of Congrats is now a grade I winner at 2, 3, and 4. She debuted for Coolmore Stud and trainer Todd Pletcher, having been purchased privately after a June 17 victory in the Desert Stormer Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park for Blinkers on Racing Stable and partners and trainer Mike Puype.
"It's sort of rare you have an opportunity to buy a multiple grade I-winning filly with some races left and some opportunities," Pletcher said. "While it was certainly a fair price, it was still a lot of money. We felt based on her record there wasn't much downside Those are the kinds of mares you'd love to have in your broodmare band when their racing career is over."
Turbulent Descent bumped slightly with Nicole H at the start of the seven-furlong Ballerina, but settled well outside two rivals in the second teir behind a pace set by 20-1 shot All Due Respect, who went a quarter in :23.02 and a half in :45.33. Turbulent Descent then ranged up three-wide in tandem with Nicole H and took a short lead coming off the far turn through three-quarters in 1:09.04.
"The only thing we were a little concerned about today was being on the outside with her not being able to get behind horses," said jockey John Velazquez. "She can get pretty aggressive, but she relaxed a little bit the first part of the race. Turning for home we kind of bumped with the horse inside of us, and she got into the bridle a little bit earlier than I had hoped for, but she still ran a great race."
Roused to the task, the bay filly drew clear and held sway under urging to register a final time of 1:22.13. Derwin's Star closed for second. All Due Respect held on for third. Belle of the Hall, Nicole H, and Island Bound completed the order of finish. It's Tricky scratched to run in the Aug. 26 Personal Ensign Invitational.
"I definitely thought I had a chance," said David Cohen, who rode the runner-up. "We were sitting chilly the whole way. We cut the corner and got to slingshot out at the top of the lane. The winner was just amazing today. [Trainer] Steve Klesaris has done such an amazing job with this filly. He claimed her for $10,000 at Laurel Park and has won more than $400,000 with her."
The 2-5 favorite in the six-horse field of older fillies and mares, Turbulent Descent paid $2.90, $2.50, and $2.10. Derwin's Star brought $5 and $4 while All Due Respect returned $5.10.
The Ballerina is a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event that awards the winner an automatic trip to the Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita Park. A $300,000 share of the purse boosted Turbulent Descent's career earnings past the million mark, to $1,201,640 from eight victories and two seconds in 12 starts. The filly, bred in Florida by Ocala Stud out of the Forestry mare Roger's Sue, counts the 2010 Hollywood Starlet Stakes and the 2011 Santa Anita Oaks, Beaumont Stakes, and Test Stakes among those wins.
Turbulent Descent is Pletcher's third Ballerina victress; he won the 2011 edition with Starlight Stables' Hilda's Passion and took the 2003 running with Eugene and Laura Melnyk's Harmony Lodge.