Wavell Avenue, Carina Mia star in Ballerina
Wavell Avenue is the reigning Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) scorer, but was unable to find the winner’s circle in three starts since that race until showing up at Saratoga on August 3. The Chad Brown-trained five-year-old pulled off a 1 3/4-length triumph in the Shine Again Stakes over track and distance that day.
"She's doing really well coming into this race. She had a local prep over the track and ran well. She's come back and breezed since and has been spectacular. She seems to be pretty sharp around the barn and I think she's ready to run a big one," said Brown, who tabbed jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to ride Wavell Avenue in the Ballerina.
"I think there is enough speed up front and she can stick to her normal style and make one run and hopefully get there," the trainer added. "We're looking for a clean trip. Two races back, at Belmont when she got beat (when second in the Bed o’ Roses Handicap [G3]), she had a nightmare trip and got caught wide on the backside. It just didn't set up for her off a slow pace. Hopefully she'll have a fair shot."
Carina Mia is the lightest raced filly in the Ballerina with only seven starts to her name. The Bill Mott pupil is cutting back here after finishing second to undefeated champion Songbird in the nine-furlong Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) on July 24. Prior to that the Malibu Moon miss recorded a pair of wins in the seven-furlong Eight Belles Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs and eight-furlong Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park.
"She's doing fine. Her last race was a good effort and she ran a good race and came out of the Coaching Club in good order," said Mott, who partners the filly with Joel Rosario for the first time.
Others who could be in contention on Saturday are Sheer Drama, who won the Personal Ensign last year but also captured the seven-furlong Madison Stakes (G1) during Keeneland’s spring meet this season; Spelling Again, who exits a neck score in the Princess Rooney Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park on July 2; and Haveyougoneaway, last-out winner of the six-furlong Honorable Miss Handicap (G2) at the Spa.
"The Ballerina is a very big deal for us. Brad will be here to saddle (Spelling Again) and all of the owners are coming," said Brittany Trimble, who runs trainer Brad Cox's division in Saratoga. "She's been up here for a couple of weeks and has worked twice over the track and just loved it, so we're all pretty excited."
"The last couple of times she ran going longer, she didn't have that kick she had in that seven-eighths race. I think this is a good opportunity to turn back," trainer David Fawkes said in regards to Sheer Drama.
Wavell Avenue photo courtesy of NYRA/Joe Labozzetta/Adam Coglianese Photography