From the NYRA Media Team:
Silverton Hill’s Jersey Pearl will look to secure her first career stakes win in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress, a six-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies, at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Darrin Miller, the Bee Jersey chestnut was freshened after a brief winter campaign at Turfway Park that included a third-place finish in the Gowell on New Year’s Eve. She returned from a four-month layoff in fine form on May 27 in a six-furlong optional-claimer at Churchill Downs to post a neck score over returning rival Alva Starr, who exited that effort to win the Dashing Beauty at Delaware Park.
Jersey Pearl followed by taking a six-furlong optional-claiming sprint over older company on July 8 at Ellis Park, scoring by 9 1/2-lengths over next-out winner Let’s Be Clear.
“I think the freshening was key. She matured – not just physically, but mentally,” said Miller, who captured the 2018 Caress here with Ruby Notion. “She’s a big, rangy filly, but she’s fast.”
Last out, Jersey Pearl stepped into the top-flight for the first time in the seven-furlong Grade 1 Test on August 5 here, stalking the pace from third position but was clipped from behind by Clearly Unhinged at the nine-sixteenths. She stayed on well until upper stretch before fading to finish fifth.
Miller said clipping heels may have hindered his filly.
“It did, but I don’t know to what effect. She came out of it in good order. Most importantly, she seemed to get across Saratoga fine,” Miller said. “Obviously, that race was a tall order and there were no great expectations. We knew what we were running against and if she would have hit the board it would have been fantastic, but building a resume is the biggest goal. I also think she’s a competitor. I don’t think you can throw her out. She can make sense in some places.”
The $12,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, who has banked $226,225 through a 7-3-1-1 record, made her first two starts with trainer Brian Lynch, graduating in October at Keeneland before moving to Miller’s barn for her Turfway campaign.
Bred in Kentucky by Charles Fipke, Jersey Pearl is out of the Perfect Soul mare Jersey’s Soul, who is a half-sister to 2010 Grade 1 Cigar Mile-winner Jersey Town.
The Spa’s leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. picks up the mount from the inside post.
Juddmonte’s Dazzling Blue [post 5, Joel Rosario] won her first three career starts all in six-furlong sprints for dual Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox.
The Into Mischief bay, out of the multiple graded stakes-placed Curlin mare Blue Violet, graduated in November at Churchill Downs ahead of a three-length score in the Letellier Memorial in December at Fair Grounds.
She opened her sophomore account with an 8 3/4-length score in an optional claimer in May at Churchill before running second to Maple Leaf Mel last out in the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 3 Victory Ride on July 8 at Belmont Park. Vahva, the third-place finisher in the Victory Ride, exited that event to win the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks.
Dazzling Blue, a $500,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, has breezed extensively over the Oklahoma training track, including a bullet five-eighths in 1:00.20 Saturday.
“She’s doing fantastic and she’s really stepped up and moved forward being up here this summer,” Cox said. “We’re cutting her back to three-quarters from six and a half, and we like that. She’s doing really well.”
P.D. Ladner’s Alva Starr [post 4, Jose Lezcano] boasts a perfect in-the-money record of 4-2-2-0 for trainer Brett Brinkman.
Bred by Brinkman and Ladner, Alva Starr graduated at first asking over a sloppy track at Delaware Park. She then shipped to Keeneland for the six-furlong Myrtlewood on October 28 but had to scratch.
“She had a little ankle thing going on, so we stopped on her,” Brinkman said.
Alva Starr returned to action in May at Oaklawn Park, completing the exacta behind next-out stakes winner Unifying in a six-furlong optional-claiming sprint ahead of her aforementioned runner-up effort to Jersey Pearl at Churchill.
“We saw an opportunity to catch an allowance race at Oaklawn at the end of the meet and we knew she wasn’t tight, but she ran an exceptionally good race,” Brinkman said. “We got up to Churchill with a race under her belt, and we felt we were a whole lot tighter. They ended up running super-fast in that race and we expected a good effort and got it – we didn’t get the win, but we got the good effort.”
Alva Starr was then shipped to Delaware and made every pole a winning one last out on July 8 while facing older company in the six-furlong Dashing Beauty when ridden out by 6 3/4-lengths.
“We summer up at Delaware with some horses, so we sent her there and she was working good over that track,” Brinkman said. “We had visions of possibly going to New York for the Victory Ride, but ended up staying at Delaware and running in the stakes against older fillies and mares. I think it did a lot of good for her to walk out of her own stall and be able to race. She put forth a great effort for us and we had the Prioress penciled in after that.”
Alva Starr subsequently shipped to Saratoga where she breezed a half-mile in 48.21 over the main track Sunday with Jose Lezcano in the irons.
“It was workmanlike. We were looking for 48-49 and he hit right on schedule,” Brinkman said. “She’s doing well. We’ve been up at Saratoga now for a week. She’s done all we’ve asked her to do and hopefully things will continue that way until Saturday.
“It’s a similar gap from the Churchill race to the Delaware race and if you look at her work pattern, she’s kind of mirrored that same work pattern going forward,” Brinkman added. “We feel good about where we’re at.”
The Lord Nelson bay is out of the graded stakes-placed Into Mischief mare Sittin At the Bar, who was campaigned by Brinkman and Ladner. Alva Starr is also a half-sibling to 2021 Grade 2 Prioress-winner Cilla, multiple graded stakes-placed Club Car, and stakes-winner Jack the Umpire, all campaigned by the same connections.
“I can’t express how special that mare’s been to us. It’s a dream come true. You never expect a horse like that to come into your life and be that special, but she definitely has been,” Brinkman said.
Brinkman said he’s looking forward to campaigning future stars out of the productive broodmare.
“We have a Frosted yearling filly we’re getting ready to start breaking at the end of the year and we have a Gun Runner weanling filly on the ground – she’s pretty special. We’re excited about her,” Brinkman said.
Rounding out a talented field are stakes-winner Unified Alliance [post 2, Javier Castellano], who captured the off-the-turf Coronation Cup here in her first start for trainer Tom Morley; and stakes-placed Unsung Melody [post 3, Manny Franco], who was third last out in the restricted Wilton for trainer John Ortiz.
The Prioress is slated as Race 5 on Saturday’s 12-race card which is headlined by the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, in race 11. Also featured Saturday are the Grade 2, $500,00 Flower Bowl, which offers an automatic berth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, in Race 3, and the listed $150,000 Harvey Pack in Race 8. First post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.
Saratoga Live will present live coverage and analysis of the Saratoga Race Course summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule/.