Tyler Gaffalione looks back for any competition as Sconsin takes the Winning Colors
Trainer Greg Foley has no doubt that Lloyd Madison Farms’ homebred Sconsin, who is named for the owners’ home state of Wisconsin, is ready for her close-up. What he’s not so sure about is how the 4-year-old filly will appreciate the Saratoga setting.
When Sconsin lines up in the gate for the $500,000, Grade 1 Ketel One Ballerina, which is a “Win and You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, against six other top-flight filly and mare sprinters it will be her first race at Saratoga.
“Some horses like it and some don’t. That’s my main worry of any,” said Foley. “But she’s doing great, and she looks really, really good. Whether she handles the track is the main concern. That’s what you hear about all the time, whether a horse will handle the racetrack or not. Hopefully, she’ll like it.”
Another concern is the presence of Gamine, the reigning champion Female Sprinter, 2020 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner, and four-time Grade 1 winner who’s only defeat in nine starts came in last year’s Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. The winner of the Grade 1 Longines Test here last year is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.
“This is definitely a tough race, especially with the champion in there,” Foley said in referring to Gamine.
Gamine is blessed with blistering speed, which she uses to her full advantage. Foley expects nothing less in the Ballerina.
“I see one with a lot of pace, and that’s Gamine. Other than her I don’t see any pace. She’s definitely the speed. I was hoping to see a little more speed entered in here to go with her early. I don’t know that there is,” he explained. “We’re not going to change our game plan too much. We’re going to sit and finish, and if we can’t get to her, we can’t. We’re not going to send her away from there trying to go with Gamine. That would be ridiculous on our part. We’re sure not going to get anything that way. Hopefully, somebody else can go with her and help us out. We’ll see what happens.”
Sconsin, by Include out of the Tiznow mare Sconnie, performs best when rating off the pace. She employed that running style when second to Gamine in the Grade 1 Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs in May and when second to the Grade 1 winning Bell’s the One in the Roxelana Stakes on that same track in her last out in June. Sconsin, the winner of the Grade 2 Eight Belles last year, also at Churchill Downs, was fourth in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
“She’s a good filly. She’s run with the best and run well with them. We beat Bell’s the One [winner of the Grade 2 Honorable Miss at the Spa July 28] in a prior race at Churchill and she came back and beat us, and that filly is an awful good filly and she showed you all here that last month,” said Foley. “She’s been training great, and really, she could not be doing any better. She looks great and she is ready to go. I’d be surprised if she doesn’t run a good race. It will take a good race [against this group] but I think she’s sitting on one.”
Sconsin signaled her readiness on August 21 when she fired a bullet four furlongs breeze in :47 flat at Ellis Park in Kentucky. The work was the fleetest of 62 horses going the same distance that morning.
“I’ve had her at Ellis, just kind of baby-sitting her down there this summer with this race in mind the whole time. I’m trying to win a Grade 1 with her. She’s won a Grade 2 and she deserves this chance,” said Foley.
Not only would a Ballerina victory be the first top level score for Sconsin, it would be the first as well for Foley, who has made 8,730 starts for 1,446 wins through August 26, according to Equibase. Moreover, winning a Grade 1 race at a NYRA track would neutralize some sibling rivalry as his sister, Vickie Foley, won the lone Grade 1 race of her long career with Hog Creek Hustle in the 2019 Woody Stephens at Belmont Park.
“Winning a Grade 1 at Saratoga, wouldn’t that be something?” said Foley, who is especially close with Vickie and shares barns with her at the Kentucky tracks. “It would definitely be something extra special for our whole family.”
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