Saratoga: How to bet the Personal Ensign

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

July 30th, 2020

Saturday’s Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga is one of those races where bettors are advised to avoid spreading deep to cover a lot of potential outcomes.

The reason? Just six fillies and mares are entered to contest this 1 1/8-mile “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), and one — #3 Midnight Bisou — looms as an overwhelming favorite. As a result, there aren’t all that many logical outcomes to consider covering.

Conditioned by hot trainer Steve Asmussen, Midnight Bisou has won eight of her last 10 starts and enters off a spectacular victory in the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs, in which she swept effortlessly from behind a fast pace to dominate by 8 1/4 lengths and was never asked for her best run.

Midnight Bisou is already proven at Saratoga, where she won the 2019 Personal Ensign by a nose over the talented Elate. If Midnight Bisou brings her "A" game Saturday — and there’s no reason to think she won’t — a defense of her Personal Ensign title should be a formality.

Determining the most likely runner-up should also be a straightforward task. #6 Point of Honor has never won a Grade 1 race, but the daughter of Curlin has placed four times at this level. She most recently battled to finish second by a nose in the 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park.

Point of Honor ran well in two starts at Saratoga last summer, when she finished second in both the 1 1/8-mile Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and the 1 1/4-mile Alabama (G1). With her affinity for rounding out the exacta, Point of Honor is a logical candidate to use underneath Midnight Bisou.

For third place, the versatile #4 Vexatious is worth a long look, after she finished second, behind champion Monomoy Girl, in the 1-mile Ruffian (G2) at Belmont, where she was beaten just two lengths and posted a 108 Brisnet Speed rating. Last summer, Vexatious finished second by a neck in Saratoga’s 1 1/8-mile Summer Colony S., behind future Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Blue Prize, so the track and distance of the Personal Ensign shouldn’t be an obstacle.

With such a seemingly clear-cut pecking order among the top contenders, betting the Personal Ensign should be as simple as playing Midnight Bisou, Point of Honor, and Vexatious in a cold trifecta.

$25 trifecta: 3 with 6 with 4

Good luck!