Personal Ensign attracts well-matched field of five

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Jen Caldwell

August 24th, 2016

Five distaffers will take their place in the Saratoga starting gate for Saturday’s $750,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) on the Travers undercard, and any one of the quintuplet could end up in the winner’s circle in the end.

I’m a Chatterbox drew the inside rail post and will be looking to continue a two-race win streak that began with an 8 1/2-length romp in the Obeah Handicap at Delaware Park on June 11. The Larry Jones-trained four-year-old miss followed up with a 2 1/4-length victory in the Delaware Handicap (G1) last out on July 16 and will be cutting back to nine furlongs for the Personal Ensign off that 1 1/4-mile affair.

I’m a Chatterbox has experience over the track, winning last year’s Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) by a nose before being disqualified to second, then returning to fill the runner-up spot in the Alabama Stakes (G1).

Florent Geroux has the return call on I’m a Chatterbox, choosing the chestnut daughter of Munnings over Cavorting, whom he piloted to victory in the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) last out on June 11.

Curalina will take up position just outside of I’m a Chatterbox. The Todd Pletcher pupil was the beneficiary of her rival’s disqualification in the CCA Oaks last year, which followed a neck win in the Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park.

The Curlin filly placed in her three other 2015 starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), and wouldn’t return to the winner’s circle until this season. Curalina made her seasonal bow in the La Troienne Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 6 and romped by 7 1/2 lengths under regular race rider John Velazquez. She could do no better than fourth in the Phipps next out but got back to her winning ways most recently in the July 31 Shuvee Handicap (G3) at the Spa.

"For as convincingly as she won, she was geared down the last part and won pretty easily," said Pletcher, who seeks his third Personal Ensign victory. "I thought she bounced out of it really well.

"I think her natural high cruising speed will put her into the race – she is not a need-the-lead type – but she seems to run her best when you allow her to get into a high cruising speed and a comfortable rhythm," he added.

Forever Unbridled will enter stall 3 under jockey Joel Rosario, who was aboard for her runner-up effort in the Phipps last out. The duo teamed up for the bay filly’s 2016 bow in the Houston Ladies Classic Stakes (G3), which she won by 1 3/4 lengths on January 30.

Velazquez was holding the reins when Forever Unbridled captured the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) next out on April 15, but Rosario resumed command in the Phipps for trainer Dallas Stewart.

Paid Up Subscriber is the only runner in this bunch without a Grade 1 win to her name. The Al Stall Jr. trainee is also the most lightly raced with only nine starts under her girth thus far.

The Candy Ride four-year-old scored an allowance win at Saratoga last year prior to a fourth-placing in the Prioress Stakes (G2), and just earned her first stakes victory on June 18 at Churchill Downs when taking the Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2). The chestnut miss was second in the Delaware ‘Cap last out and keeps jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons for this second go at Grade 1 competition.

Cavorting completes the field from the outside 5 post. The Kiaran McLaughlin-conditioned four-year-old posted a five-length decision in the Ruffian Stakes (G2) prior to her Phipps triumph, and was a two-time winner at Saratoga last year in the Test Stakes (G1) and Prioress.

Javier Castellano had piloting duties for the Ruffian and takes back the mount on Cavorting as she tries two turns for the first time.

"We hope she settles toward the rear again and makes a big run," McLaughlin said. "The distance isn't a big deal, but two turns is different.

"In my experience as a trainer at Belmont Park and coming here, you have those few horses who want one turn, not two," he added. "Cavorting might be one of those, but we hope not. It can happen, but you don't know until you try."

Curalina and I’m a Chatterbox photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography
Cavorting photo courtesy of NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography