SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- The wins might not come as frequently for Rutherienne in the twilight of her career, but she is still a formidable opponent no matter where she runs. She was an unlucky loser in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga earlier this meet, and a repeat of that effort should be more than good enough to take the Grade 2, $200,000 Ballston Spa for female turf runners Saturday at Saratoga.
In the Diana, Rutherienne found herself trapped behind horses through much of the stretch, yet still closed resolutely to be third, beaten only three-quarters of a length by Forever Together. The 1 1/16-mile Ballston Spa does not seem to have come up as challenging.
"She's doing very well," trainer Christophe Clement said. "She had no racing luck in the Diana. She would have been right there with a better trip. She loves it here. She's never run a bad race at Saratoga."
Rutherienne, 5, has won once at Saratoga in four starts, yet has finished in the money every time. She owns 10 wins in 20 starts and has finished in the money 18 times. Yet after winning 8 of her first 10 starts, she has won 2 of her last 10.
"Maybe she hasn't won as much as she should, but she's been in the best races," Clement said. "She belongs in that company. She hasn't ducked anybody."
Clement's main concern is the weather.
"Rutherienne prefers good to good-to-firm ground," he said. "The forecast is a question mark for Saturday."
Seven others entered the Ballston Spa, the most accomplished of whom is Cocoa Beach, who won the Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park last year in a sensational performance. She has run only twice since then, and though she won the minor
De La Rose Stakes here Aug. 5, she did not look as sharp as she did last year.
My Princess Jess was fifth in the Diana. Like Rutherienne, she has been facing the best of this division. She was third in the Just a Game at Belmont Park. Earlier this year, she won the Beaugay at Belmont. She won the Lake George on a soft course here last summer.
Closeout will move up significantly if wet weather arrives. She won on a yielding course at Churchill Downs in the Locust Grove in her last start and last year won the Pucker Up at Arlington on a soft course.
Teamgeist, a Group 2 winner in her native Argentina, got clobbered at midstretch in the De La Rose in her U.S. debut when chasing Cocoa Beach. She can improve.