Stopchargingmaria Makes Her Case In Personal Ensign
Stopchargingmaria Makes Her Case In Personal Ensign: Beyer Speed Figure followers never were impressed with Stopchargingmaria’s numbers. Last year at Saratoga Race Course, she won the Alabama (GI) with an 82 Beyer, while her best speed figures top out in the mid 90s. Yet, she wins often. Currently, Stopchargingmaria owns a 57 percent win rate out of 14 races. While not a speed figure, how is that for an impressive number?
Stopchargingmaria will attempt to improve the win percentage this Saturday in the Personal Ensign (GI) at Saratoga Race Course. This race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series event, meaning the winner gains an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland this October. The four-year-old filly is trained by Todd Pletcher. As her name suggests, prominent owner Mike Repole used to campaign her (his wife’s name is Maria) before selling to Town and Country Farms.
Even though Stopchargingmaria fails to amaze most handicappers, her last race in the Shuvee H. (GIII) on this racetrack left no doubt. She tracked fellow Personal Ensign contender Untapable from the second spot, before making her move turning for home and edging clear in the final strides. Untapable simply had little excuse, unless the rail was dead. Stopchargingmaria failed to blow Untapable away by a large margin, but maybe she only turns in the required effort to win.
Her form before the Shuvee backs up the recent win, as she also captured the DuPont Distaff (GIII) by four lengths at Pimlico over an 11-horse field. Three starts back, she narrowly lost to Princess Violet by half a length in the Madison (GI) at Keeneland. It is hard not to applaud a filly who likes to win often, or at least keeps hitting the board.
Undoubtedly, Untapable will continue to attract support and the connections should keep trying, as finishing third or better in races is not a “bad” thing. From a betting perspective, she is a money burner this year as the losing favorite in three of her last four starts. She did win the Apple Blossom three races ago, right after losing her season debut to the average Gold Medal Dancer. It just feels like Untapable is on a downward cycle, despite how she continues to hang around near the finish. Some bettors will handicap her based on the previous year too, bringing the overall value down.
If Untapable turns the corner and wins, then she wins. Seeing her recapture last year’s magic would be great for horse racing. A matchup between an in-form Untapable and Beholder is an event fans want to see, assuming Beholder opts out of the Breeders’ Cup Classic and settles for the Distaff. First, she must prove her dominance over these kinds of female horses again, and her form is difficult to trust.
The last major contender is Sheer Drama, who also offers the same kind of “in-the-money” consistency the other two fillies show. Recently, she won the Delaware H. (GI) by two lengths. Looking at her record, backwheeling Sheer Drama in the second slot may turn out more reliable than keying on top. Out of 18 starts, this mare owns five wins and eight second-place finishes.
Also, Got Lucky deserves mention for winning her last two races at Monmouth Park by good margins. Paco Lopez rode her in those races, and the running lines show a more aggressive strategy than slowly coming late as in the past. What if she liked responding to Lopez, and regresses under Irad Ortiz, Jr.? Certain horses will respond better to different jockeys, and only watching Got Lucky for now to see if she keeps the spark going is the best idea.
Unlike Got Lucky, Stopchargingmaria is more proven at the highest level and appears set for another win, albeit in an unflashy style. Use Stopchargingmaria in all tickets. Her name is always fun to discuss, as a friend brought up the theory about Maria being unfairly charged with mysterious crimes and how Repole wanted to name a filly to poke fun at his wife’s trouble with law enforcement. If she runs runs well this weekend, fans will speak of her as the Personal Ensign champion and Breeders’ Cup Distaff challenger.
Personal Ensign 2015 Post Positions & Odds
Race 6 2:35 PM ET
1 America 12-1 Alvarado/Mott
2 Sheer Drama 3-1 Bravo/Fawkes
3 Tiz Windy 15-1 Leparoux/Nafzger
4 Stopchargingmaria 2-1 Castellano/Pletcher
5 Got Lucky 4-1 Ortiz, Jr./Pletcher
6 Untapable 5-2 Velazquez/Asmussen