HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Ballet Diva was hardly a surprise winner in her debut at Gulfstream Park on May 28. When Jacks or Better Farm and trainer Stanley Gold send out a first-time starter, bettors tend to take notice and head to the betting windows.
The 6-5 favorite, though, exceeded normal expectations when she galloped to a dazzling 12 ¼-length triumph without the need of a bit of encouragement. The 2-year-old daughter of Hear No Evil subsequently made a smooth transition to stakes company in equally eye-catching fashion during a dominating 4 ½-length romp in the $100,000 Cassidy Stakes on July 5 under another hand ride.
“It amazes me, when you look at the package, that she can do that. She’s not real imposing to look at. She’s light-boned. She’s not large,” Gold said. “But she’s very light on her feet with a long stride. She’s just fast – that’s it. This filly hasn’t been asked.”
Although small in stature, Ballet Diva will loom large with handicappers at Gulfstream Saturday when she takes to the track for the $200,000 Desert Vixen in the first leg of the 2015 Florida Sire Stakes on a card that includes the $200,000 Dr. Fager for 2-year-old males and five other supporting stakes.
Ballet Diva captured the 5 ½ furlongs of the Cassidy in 1:04.06, more than a second faster that the running time of the co-featured Birdonthewire earlier on the July 5 card. The Desert Vixen and Dr. Fager, open to 2-year-olds sired by accredited stallions standing in Florida, will both be contested at six furlongs.
“Ballet Diva likes what’s she’s doing. She’s a happy, healthy horse,” Gold said. “Six furlongs isn’t going to be a problem, I can tell you that.”
Jockey Eddie Castro will be aboard Ballet Diva for the first time in the Desert Vixen, carded as the fifth race on a 12-race program, replacing Caraballo, who is on the sidelines with a foot injury.
Gold and Jacks or Better Farm, who have teamed for a record 16 Florida Sire Stakes victories, and will also be represented by Silent Prayer in the Desert Vixen. Silent Prayer was also victorious in her debut, scoring a front-running 1 ½-length win on May 6. Not wanting to pit the daughter of Brooks ‘n Down against Ballet Diva in the Cassidy, Gold entered her against the boys in the Birdonthewire, in which she set the pace before fading to third.
Silent Prayer, who is scheduled to be ridden by Jesus Rios, has shown a front-running style that may create a less-than-ideal pace scenario for Ballet Diva in the Desert Vixen.
“It’s an issue, because they’re similar. I don’t know what we’ll do come post time. (Silent Prayer) is strong and she’s fast. I don’t know how we’re going to play it, but they’ll both be in there to win,” Gold said. “We’re not going to get fancy and take a horse back and change their running styles. There are going to be two riders on the same team. They’re not going to test each other and go head to head, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to take their horses out of their styles. They’re in there to win.”
Tracy Pinchin’s It’s High Time has been entered to take on Ballet Diva for a second time after finishing a tiring third in the Cassidy. The Jose Pinchin-trained daughter of Gone Astray had previously posted a front-running 7 ¼-length victory in her debut.
Trainer Herman Wilensky and Pedro Gonzalez’s High End Queen made amends for a second-place finish as the favorite in her debut, scoring a four-length triumph last time out June 27.
Trainer David Fawkes is slated to saddle Harold Queen’s Charging Lil, a daughter of Big Drama who is scheduled to debut in the Desert Vixen.
Maidens D’chief Source, Sweet Khaleesi and She’s Incredible round out the eight-filly field.