SARATOGA SPRINGS , N.Y. – Odds-on favorite Turbulent Descent earned her fourth career Grade 1 victory in the first start for her new connections, taking over at the top of the stretch and going on to a 1 ¼-length win over Derwin’s Star in Friday’s $500,000 Ballerina at Saratoga Race Course.
Purchased privately by Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith this summer and sent to trainer Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old Congrats filly was making her second start of 2012 and first since taking the Desert Stormer Handicap on June 17 at Betfair Hollywood Park .
Away from the gate alertly, Turbulent Descent raced three-wide alongside Island Bound and Nicole H as All Due Respect led through an opening quarter-mile in 23.02 seconds, with the half going in 45.33. Moving up with Nicole H on the turn, Turbulent Descent quickly assumed command straightening for home and was never threatened as she galloped under the wire in 1:22.13 for the seven furlongs.
“Turning for home she kind of bumped with the horse inside of us and she got into the bridle a little bit earlier than I hoped for, but she still ran a great race,” said her Hall of Fame jockey, John Velazquez.
Sent off at 2-5, Turbulent Descent returned $2.90 for a $2 win bet and earned $300,000 to become racing’s newest millionaire with a bankroll of $1,201,640. Overall, Turbulent Descent is 8-2-0 from 12 starts, with her earlier Grade 1 victories comprising the Test at Saratoga and the Santa Anita Oaks in 2011 as well as the Hollywood Starlet in 2010 while in the care of trainer Mike Puype.
“You’re talking about a filly that’s a Grade 1 winner at 2, 3 and 4 and that’s pretty rare,” said Pletcher.
As part of the “Win and You’re In” series, her Ballerina victory earned Turbulent Descent an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on November 2 at Santa Anita Park, which Pletcher said could be her next start.
“It’s possible she may run back at Belmont [Park] in between but we’ll see how she bounces out of this,” he said.
Derwin’s Star closed from fifth to finish three-quarters of a length ahead of All Due Respect, with Belle of the Hall, Nicole H, and Island Bound completing the order of finish. It’s Tricky was scratched and instead will run in Sunday’s Grade 1, 1 1/8-mile Personal Ensign.