Second to the late Big City Man in the 2009 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), Indian Blessing (pictured below while training in Dubai this spring) will make only her second start since that effort in Saturday’s Ballerina (G1) at Saratoga. The daughter of Indian Charlie was a lackluster fourth in the Desert Stormer (Listed) at Hollywood Park and has been shelved ever since.
Trainer Bob Baffert has taken his filly along at a crawl this year, with no starts in three months leading up to the Dubai Golden Shaheen and only one since then, measured a full 2.5 months ago. Having drawn only five other competitors, the number of entrants is not of particular concern, but the quality at least two of those fillies lining-up against Indian Blessing offers pause. Godolphin’s Music Note will shorten up to the Ballerina’s seven furlongs after a dull June return since a third behind Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Informed Decision carries recency on her side with a perfect 3-for-3 mark in 2009 comprised of two Grade 1 wins and a Grade 3 score in her last performance.
In other Dubai/Saratoga-related racing news, the 2008 UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks winner, Cocoa Beach, gets back into graded stakes action following a win in a listed event earlier in the meeting. She is one of eight to face the starter in the Ballston Spa Handicap (G2) over 8.5 furlongs on the turf. Cocoa Beach is the most accomplished horse in the Ballston Spa, owning a lifetime record of 10 wins and two seconds and a third from 14 lifetime starts with earnings just shy of $1.7 million.
Vineyard Haven, a disappointment when he failed to acclimate to the UAE climes, is one of nine to go in the King’s Bishop (G1) for 3-year-olds over seven furlongs. In his only 2009 starts, the privately purchased son of Lido Palace was fourth beaten 12 lengths by Desert Party, Regal Ransom, and Redding Colliery. The King’s Bishop is an awfully ambitious spot to make a return, especially in a field that includes successful and in-form competition such as Big Drama, Capt Candyman Can, and Munnings. That being said, Godolphin’s team has done nothing wrong at Saratoga, winning or placing in all but one race from eight Saratoga starts this season.