HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Ballet Diva’s career record, thus far, is rather imposing: three wins, including two stakes triumphs, from four opportunities.
The 2-year-old daughter of Hear No Evil’s physical stature is not.
Jacks or Better Farm’s homebred has proven that good things do indeed come in small packages, but some bettors might hold her small size against her while handicapping Saturday’s $500,000 My Dear Girl Division of the Florida Sire Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Her smooth, economical stride has served her well at sprinting distances, but the daughter of Hear No Evil will be challenged to show that she can also carry her speed around two turns in the 1 1/16-mile race for fillies on the $1.3 million Florida Sire Stakes card for horses sired by accredited Florida stallions.
Trainer Stanley Gold is hopeful that Ballet Diva will follow up her front-running triumph in the seven-furlong $300,000 Susan’s Girl Division with a victory in the finale of the Sire Stakes series, but he’s not making any predictions.
“You know where she’s going to be. Will she stay there? We’ll find out. I don’t know. I really don’t know,” Gold said. “But if you looked at her, you’d say, ‘No way.’”
She may not be big, but she hardly went unnoticed when she debuted at Gulfstream May 28 with a 12 ½-length victory or when she followed up her maiden score with a 4 ½-length romp against open company in the Cassidy Stakes July 5. Ballet Diva suffered her first defeat in the first leg of the FSS Aug. 8, when she finished third after It’s High Time outsprinted her for the lead and scored by 3 ¼ lengths in the $200,000 Desert Vixen. However, it wasn’t her size that beat Ballet Diva.
“Ballet Diva is bigger than my filly,” said Jose Pinchin, who trains It’s High Time for his wife, Tracy. “My filly is tiny. She was doing good, but I didn’t expect her to beat that horse. She’s gutsy.”
It’s High Time was entered in Saturday’s My Dear Girl for a Sire Stakes rubber match with Ballet Diva, who got redemption for her loss in the six-furlong Desert Vixen with a front-running triumph in the seven-furlong Susan’s Girl. It’s High Time chased Ballet Diva along the backstretch and swung four wide on the turn into the homestretch, settling for third, 3 ¾ lengths behind the winner and 2 ¾ lengths behind runner-up Silent Prayer, a Gold-trained Jacks or Better homebred who has also been entered in the My Dear Girl.
Pinchin is optimistic that his filly will handle two turns but understands that jockey Edgard Zayas must avoid becoming involved in an early speed duel to give the daughter of Gone Astray her best chance to win.
“I don’t think it [two turns] will be a problem. I’m going to leave it up to Zayas. If she breaks good and no one wants the lead, then ‘go.’ If not, ‘just sit there.’ If I get caught in a speed duel going a mile and a sixteenth, I’ll die,” he said.
The Pinchins visited the Gulfstream winner’s circle last year with Holywell following her victories in the Susan’s Girl and My Dear Girl.
“I think this filly is better than the other one,” Pinchin said. “They’re different fillies. One is big and one is small.”
Jose Caraballo, who is undefeated in his three races aboard Ballet Diva, has been awarded the return mount by Jacks or Better Farm and Gold, who have teamed for a record 17 successes in the FSS series for 2-year-olds.
“She’ll get the distance,” Gold said.
If Ballet Diva is unsuccessful in her two-turn debut, stablemate Silent Prayer could well continue her connections’ FSS success. The daughter of Brooks n’ Down broke her maiden at first asking before finishing third against colts in the Birdonthewire Stakes July 5. She finished three-quarters of a length ahead of heavily favored Ballet Diva while finishing second in the Desert Vixen before finishing a length behind her stablemate in the Susan’s Girl. Jesus Rios has the return mount.
Sandra Trotter’s Sweet War, who rallied from 10th to finish fourth, a half-length behind It’s High Time, in the Susan’s Girl, and Orylana Farm’s My Good Venezuela, who debuted with a last-to-fifth performance in the second leg of the Florida Sire Stakes, were entered in the My Dear Girl, as was ninth-place finisher Aurora Racing’s Enterprising Lady.
Arindel’s Sweet Khaleesi, who finished sixth in the Desert Vixen, will return Saturday after breaking her maiden in her most recent start.
Flora Dora and Marnesia Big Girl round out the field.