Michael Lund Petersen's Gamine (Into Mischief), last year's Eclipse champion female sprinter, aims for her fifth straight victory in the GI Ketel One Ballerina S.–a Win and You're In event for the GI Breeders' Cup F/M Sprint–at Saratoga Saturday. Gamine capped her championship campaign with a 6 1/4-length romp in last year's F/M Sprint and she has been largely unchallenged in three starts so far this term. The bay filly opened 2021 with a five-length score in the Apr. 4 GIII Las Flores S. and added the May 1 GI Derby City Distaff S. at Churchill before a 10-length victory in the July 5 GII Great Lady M S. last time out.
“She's filled out and she looks good and she's been working well, so we wouldn't send her unless we thought she was doing really well,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “We're excited about it. She always runs well when she goes back East. She likes the Eastern tracks.”
Gamine, a 'TDN Rising Star,' is a perfect three-for-three at the Ballerina's seven-furlong distance and romped home a seven-length winner of last year's GI Test S. in her only previous start at Saratoga.
“She's just brilliant, just a brilliant filly,” Baffert said. “She's fun to watch and people like watching her run. Fans love those kinds of horses, and they count on them.”
Also invading from the West Coast for the Ballerina is Bo Hirsch's Ce Ce (Elusive Quality). Fifth in last year's GI Breeders' Cup Distaff, the 5-year-old mare opened 2021 with an optional-claimer win going seven furlongs at Santa Anita in April. She bobbled at the break before tiring to fourth in the 1 1/16-mile GII Santa Maria S. May 22 and cut back and returned to the winner's circle with a 3 1/4-length win over Estilo Talentoso (Maclean's Music) in the July 3 GII Princess Rooney S. last time out.
“She came out of her race in Florida in good order and has trained forwardly,” trainer Michael McCarthy said. “This is a race we've had on her calendar for a while.”
Ce Ce won last year's GI Beholder Mile and GI Apple Blossom H. and will be chasing a third Grade I tally Saturday. She comes into the race off a bullet five-furlong drill in :59 flat (1/73) at Del Mar Aug. 20.
“She's always been good. She's caught a couple of racetracks that weren't to her liking, but she's been very good this year,” McCarthy said. “She's wonderful. She is just a treat to train. She enjoys her job and is very classy around the barn. We're very lucky to have one like her. It's a big thrill.”
Godolphin's Lake Avenue (Tapit), winner of the 2019 GII Demoiselle S., narrowly missed out on a second graded victory in both her most recent starts. She lost by a neck when second behind Estilo Talentoso in the June 4 GIII Bed o'Roses S. and was second again by that same margin behind Bell's the One (Majesticperfection) in the July 28 GII Honorable Miss S. last time out.
“She had a good trip the last couple of times. She did get beat both times, but not by much,” trainer Bill Mott said. “Hopefully, she'll put in that same type of effort again this weekend. We're going into a very tough spot, but we want to give her an opportunity in another Grade I. None of these Grade I races on Saturday are easy. They're all tough.”