Elate Looks for Personal Ensign Redemption
Courtesy of TVG
Just a year ago, dual grade 1-winner Elate went into the $700,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) at Saratoga as the home horse with an advantage. She already had a grade 1 victory over the track to her credit thanks to the 2017 Alabama Stakes, and trainer Bill Mott had her primed for a top effort.
But on that occasion she met West Coast shipper and Bob Baffert-trainee Abel Tasman. The two put on a roaring display in the stretch, with Abel Tasman leading into the stretch and Elate rallying on the outside. She drew alongside and looked like a sure thing to pass by when Abel Tasman dug in and fought back to prevail. The head on replay showed some bumping between them, adding to Elate’s the heartbreaking defeat.
There is no Abel Tasman here today, but perhaps an even more compelling challenger in Midnight Bisou, who has won five straight races including two at Oaklawn Park over Elate. Since her consecutive losses to Midnight Bisou, Elate has won the Fleur De Lis Handicap (G2) at Churchill Downs and the Delaware Handicap (G2) at Delaware Park. Jose Ortiz will be up.
Mike Smith has the call on Midnight Bisou, who has yet to win in two starts over this track and has yet to win over the nine-furlong trip today. Her last loss came in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), where she was third beaten only a length and a half. Steve Asmussen trains the daughter of Midnight Lute, who is the 6-5 choice on the morning line.
Third in last year’s Personal Ensign behind Abel Tasman and Elate was Wow Cat (Chi), who is back for more today. She makes only her second start of 2019 after running second in the Shuvee (G3) here on July 21. The horse that beat her that day, Golden Award, and the horse who finished third, She’s a Julie, are both back for this. Chad Brown trains Wow Cat, a grade 1 winner in Chile who won the grade 1 Beldame Invitational at Belmont in October.
Just three starts back She’s a Julie was a grade 1 winner on the Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs. She is the second Asmussen trainee here, and has since been third in both the Fluer De Lis and the Shuvee. Last year, She’s a Julie ran second in the Alabama, defeating Midnight Bisou on that day.
The Shuvee was the first stakes win for Golden Award, who is also trained by Mott. The four-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro is a half-sister to 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes hero I’ll Have Another.
The six horses are rounded out by Coach Rocks, a 20-1 shot who was second in the Molly Pitcher (G3) at Monmouth Park last out. The Dale Romans-trainee has always been a classy sort, winning the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) and running second in both the Black Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) at Pimlico and the Delaware Oaks (G3) last year. Coach Rocks has finished in the top three spots in 11 of 16 lifetime starts, and has Molly Pitcher pilot Luis Saez back aboard today.
The 2019 Personal Ensign, a Win and You’re In event for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on November 2, can be watched live on TVG.
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