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Personal Ensign Quick Picks
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Personal Ensign Quick Picks

by Laurie RossAugust 27, 2021

The $600,000 Grade One Personal Ensign Stakes drew an accomplished field of nine fillies and mares who will run 1 1/8 miles over Saratoga’s main track on Saturday. In addition, a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), which will be held at Del Mar on November 6, is up for grabs.

The Personal Ensign is carded as race 10 on the Travers undercard, with a 4:47 PM ET post time.

#1 Dunbar Road (20-1)

The accomplished Dunbar Road is a Grade 1 winner at Saratoga. However, the six-year-old mare’s best days seem to be behind her. She finished fifth in both starts this year with no apparent excuse, and her last victory was last July in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap. Toss.

#2 As Time Goes By (6-1)

As Time Goes By is dominant against lesser rivals in California; however, she lost both times against Grade 1 company, including a runner-up position against Swiss Skydiver. The Bob Baffert trainee’s Brisnet speed figures are some of the lowest in the field, and she’s facing a much tougher group in the Personal Ensign. Use her in the exotics if playing multiple bets; otherwise, toss.

#3 Bonny South (10-1)

Bonny South enters the Personal Ensign Stakes off a fifth-place finish as the odds on favorite in the Delaware Handicap (G2) at 1 1/4 miles. She previously finished second to Letruska in the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1); however, the Brad Cox trainee is winless beyond 1 1/16-miles. Nevertheless, Bonny South will make a late run and perhaps could hit the lower exotics.

#4 Swiss Skydiver (7-2)

Swiss Skydiver hopes to rebound in the Personal Ensign after facing older males in the Whitney Handicap (G1). While the Ken McPeek trainee has dealt with several training interruptions, she should improve in her second start off the layoff. Win contender.

#5 Royal Flag (10-1)

The consistent Royal Flag has hit the board in all ten-lifetime starts. Her most effective running style is as a one-run closer, and she used this to her advantage in this year’s Shuvee Stakes (G3) at Saratoga.

In last year’s edition of the Shuvee, the Chad Brown trainee closed quickly to finish second, beaten only a length by Letruska. Royal Flag is moving up in class; however, her Brisnet speed figures fit with this group, and she is a live longshot. Win contender.

#6 Letruska (6-5)

Letruska is the overwhelming favorite to win the Personal Ensign. She’s won five of her last six starts; her only defeat was a head loss to Shedaresthedevil in March. The mare previously beat Personal Ensign rivals Bonny South, Swiss Skydiver, Dunbar Road, and Royal Flag. Win contender.

#7 Miss Marissa (20-1)

Miss Marissa ran the best race of her career last time out in the Delaware Handicap (G2), leading the entire way in the 1 1/4 mile contest. She earned a high 104 Brisnet speed figure, which is a twelve-point jump from the previous figure. Miss Marissa likes to set the pace but could wind up in a speed duel with Letruska. Toss.

#8 Harvey’s Lil Goil (8-1)

Bill Mott hopes the change to dirt from turf will improve Harvey’s Lil Goil’s results. Last year, this switch had positive results when Harvey’s Lil Goil placed third in the Alabama Stakes (G1) behind Swiss Skydiver and Bonny South. Leading Saratoga rider Luis Saez is a huge plus, and Harvey’s Lil Goil could replicate her Alabama Stakes result. Exotics.

#9 Graceful Princess (15-1)

Graceful Princess captured her first graded stakes win last out in the Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3) and now takes on more formidable competition. The Todd Pletcher trainee has never scored back-to-back victories and has won only three of 13-lifetime starts. Toss.

Personal Ensign Stakes Analysis

Favorites have won only four of the last eleven editions of the Personal Ensign, so the saying that Saratoga is the “graveyard of favorites” rings true.
Ten of the last eleven winners won or placed in their previous start, all with various running styles.

The heavy favorite, Letruska could dominate the race since she has beaten four of five Personal Ensign rivals. However, despite her dominance, Letruska has a couple of weak points.

She only wins when on the lead, so if she fails to get away cleanly from the gate or is pressed early by the longshot Miss Marissa, we could see an upset.

The ones most likely to benefit from this scenario are Swiss Skydiver and the closer, Royal Flag. However, Swiss Skydiver may not be fully recovered from her last race just 21 days ago, so Royal Flag could upset the Personal Ensign at longshot odds.

#5 Royal Flag (10-1)

#6 Letruska (6-5)

#4 Swiss Skydiver (7-2)

#3 Bonny South (10-1)

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About The Author
Laurie Ross
Laurie is a handicapper, pedigree consultant, and published author. Her work has been featured on numerous prominent racing websites and she is a reoccurring guest on sports radio programs. She is also a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association. Her yearly publications contain tremendous insight and value for bettors and horsemen. The Freshmen Sire Guide has received accolades from leading trainers and handicappers and her Triple Crown guides are a best-selling feature.