Sunday, September 04, 2011
ASK THE MOON WIRES FIELD IN PERSONAL ENSIGN
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Proving her score at 18-1 in the Ruffian Invitational Handicap on July 31 was no fluke, 6-year-old mare Ask the Moon notched her second Grade 1 victory of the Saratoga meet, leading from start to finish Saturday in the $300,000 Personal Ensign Invitational.
This time around, in a field of six, Ask the Moon went off as the 9-5 favorite under jockey Javier Castellano and galloped through an opening quarter-mile in a quick 23.43 seconds and a half in 47.37 before repelling her lone challenge and sailing to victory by 2 ¾ lengths.
Ask the Moon paid $5.90 for a $2 win bet and won in a final time of 2:04.21.
Ask the Moon, a Maryland-bred daughter of Malibu Moon out of the Valid Appeal mare Always Asking, has breeding that suggests the Personal Ensign distance might have been beyond her scope.
“Distance was definitely a worry, but she’s all heart down the lane,” said Heather Irion, Wolfson’s assistant, who saddled Ask the Moon. “She is all class, this horse.”
Ask the Moon returned to her home base of Monmouth Park after winning the Ruffian before coming back to Saratoga Race Course for the Personal Ensign.
“She has been here for about a week due to the hurricane,” Irion said. “She obviously loves this track. She’s been amazing. We never dreamed she would do this when we claimed her. Marty loved her. He told me when he sent her over, ‘This filly is really special to me.’ But I think she has blown us away with two Grade 1 wins right off the bat.”
The Personal Ensign featured three runners from the Ruffian — Ask the Moon, Tiz Miz Sue and Super Espresso — and newcomers who were largely devoid of the necessary early speed to challenge for the lead.
At the start, Ask the Moon went right out and made the pace, while jockey Jose Lezcano pulled Acronym back from his inside post into a stalking position and Pachattack, trying the dirt for the first time, set up on the outside.
The two stalkers ran in tandem behind the leader as the rest of the field strung out on the backside. On the turn for home, Acronym fell back and Pachattack was the only horse to mount a serious challenge.
Castellano, aboard Ask the Moon for the second time after the Ruffian, was impressed.
“She improved,” he said. “People said that maybe she got lucky last time. They let her go on the lead and stole the race. I don’t think so. She improved a lot, she’s a nice filly, she’s won two Grade 1s, and I’m glad to get on the filly.”
Protesting, Super Espresso and Acronym completed the order of finish.
With the $180,000 first-place purse, Ask the Moon increased her lifetime earnings to $713,640. She has now won 10 of 32 starts.
Irion said Wolfson, who watched the race from his base at Calder Race Course, had no plans just yet for Ask the Moon. The trainer has a strong record claiming hard-knocking older horses and stepping them up successfully into the graded ranks.
“Marty, he’s good at this,” Irion said. “He’s good at reviving these old horses. I’m sure [he’ll] have another genius plan in her future.”
Read more articles in the Saratoga category.