The $200,000 Ballston Spa on Saturday at Saratoga is the designated comeback race for Chad Brown’s Sistercharlie.
The seven-time Grade 1 scorer has already amassed more than $3.6m in career prize money and she was the Champion Turf Female in 2018, having won each of the four top-level races she contested.
The Ballston Spa is a fillies Grade 2 for older performers over one mile and half a furlong on the turf track at Saratoga.
Brown has also got North Broadway as a possible contender, while recent Hillsborough Grade 2 winner Starship Jubilee for Kevin Attard joins the likes of Another Broad, Bramble Queen and Call Me Love in completing the line-up.
A blistering start to last season ensured Sistercharlie joined the mighty Zenyatta (nine) as the only North American-based horses to win six straight Grade 1 events.
She was last spotted in November finishing third behind Irish raider Iridessa in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.
Brown will be aiming to saddle his sixth career winner of the Ballston Spa and he feels Sistercharlie is ready to roll again, while he paid tribute to her owners for keeping her in training for another term.
“She’s been training really well,” said Brown. “It’s only a mile and a sixteenth, which is a little shorter than the Diana was last year, but she did it a couple of years ago in the Jenny Wiley.
“She’s been ready to run for a little while now. It’s great that he [Peter Brant, owner] decided to race her as a six-year-old. To have a star horse like this in training is good for the entire industry, so hopefully she has another great year.”
John Velazquez has been aboard Sistercharlie in all ten previous wins on North American soil and they’ve been drawn in stall five for Saturday’s race.
Sistercharlie completed her prep with a half-mile workout alongside stablemate Eliade recently, completing the distance in 50.44 seconds, and her trainer was pleased with that showing.
“She did well. It was a final piece of work to get her to stretch her legs. She seems ready to go,” Brown added.
Starship Jubilee meanwhile is a perfect three-from-three in this calendar year, having most recently won the Grade 2 Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs in early March.
Her trainer says a break was always in the planning after that run, though he does admit the pandemic-enforced break in the national stakes calendar forced a minor re-think.
“We were planning on giving her a break anyway. We wanted to keep her fresh for this year,” said Attard, who will have Javier Castellano on board in Saturday’s comeback.
“At one point, we were pointing toward the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland in April but then COVID took over and plans changed. We sent her to the farm after her race at Tampa and she had a bit of a freshening before we got her back into training.”