By Emily Shields
The first of five stakes at Saratoga on Saturday is the $500,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) for older fillies and mares. Only five rivals will line up against prohibitive divisional favorite Midnight Bisou, the 2-5 choice on the morning line.
The defending champion in the nine-furlong contest, Midnight Bisou has earned $7.3 million for trainer Steve Asmussen and is coming off a brilliant 8 ¼ length trashing of the Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs on June 27. That was her first start since the $20 million Saudi Cup in February, where she ran second behind Maximum Security. That rival came back to win the San Diego (G2) last weekend at Del Mar.
With Mike Smith stuck at Del Mar thanks to COVID-19, Ricardo Santana, Jr. will get the mount on Midnight Bisou for the first time. The filly has been first, second, and third in three Saratoga tries, including a loss to Monomoy Girl in the 2018 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1).
Can anyone run with this older, better version of Midnight Bisou? Point of Honor will try. The daughter of Curlin has run here twice, finishing second both times in Grade 1 company. Javier Castellano gets back aboard the George Weaver trainee, who is coming off a nose loss in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont last out. She was third in the Apple Blossom (G1) after winning the 2019 Black Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico last May.
Another horse who has run second at Saratoga is Vexatious, who is 5-1 on the morning line. The daughter of Giant’s Causeway is out of the Grade 1-winning mare Dream of Summer, making her a full sister to nice stallion Creative Cause. Jack Sisterson trains the mare, who will have Jose Lezcano aboard. She has been top three in 13 of 27 lifetime starts.
Abounding Joy, Motion Emotion, and Bossy Bride round out an overmatched field. The Personal Ensign is one of five stakes at Saratoga Saturday, including the Grade 1 Whitney and Grade 1 H Allen Jerkens, as well as the Grade 2 Bowling Green.Bet on the 2020 Saratoga summer meeting every day with TVG.com.
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