09/30/2009 12:00AM

F&M Sprint a big-league rematch - and more


The easy way to promote this year's Filly and Mare Sprint is to advertise it as a rematch between the first two finishers in this event last year. But it's also valid. After all, Ventura will be the favorite off her powerful, four-length score from off the pace in the 2008 Filly and Mare Sprint, and off a victory over males last month in the Woodbine Mile that might have been her best performance ever. And Indian Blessing, who was clearly second best in this race last year, figures to be one of a few vying for second choice in the wagering after displaying the heart of the two-time champion she is when she refused to be beaten in last week's Gallant Bloom Handicap.

But to limit the focus on this edition of the Filly and Mare Sprint to only Ventura and Indian Blessing would be a mistake, as there is much more to be found here. There is Informed Decision, who improved her career record to 9 for 12 and extended her undefeated streak over synthetic surfaces to five with a decisive victory last month in the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes. In one of her earlier synthetic-track outings, Informed Decision upset Ventura by a head in the Madison Stakes on Keeneland's Polytrack. It should be noted, however, that Informed Decision had a good trip in the Madison, while Ventura went very wide into the stretch, losing ground that had to have played a significant role in the outcome.

And then there are the representatives from the hottest stakes barn in the nation right now, Godolphin Racing. Godolphin has a handful of potential starters in the Filly and Mare Sprint, but according to assistant trainer Rick Mettee, the two the barn has tabbed for the moment are Sara Louise and Seventh Street.

Sara Louise, the last horse to have beaten Rachel Alexandra (she won the Pocahontas Stakes by almost four lengths over her last November), impressed winning the Victory Ride at Saratoga in her first start this year, and did everything but get her nose down in front of Indian Blessing when narrowly beaten in the Gallant Bloom. As for Seventh Street, she made her last four starts in Grade 1 races, winning the Apple Blossom and Go for Wand, and finishing second in the Ogden Phipps and Ruffian.

Mettee said that Flashing, who won the Test and who could have been another Godolphin candidate for this race, is pointing to Keeneland's Raven's Run Stakes.

However, Godolphin has a filly who could seriously alter the complexion of this race if she were to run in it, and that is Music Note. Music Note, winner of three Grade 1 races last year at 3, will start in Saturday's Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park going 1 1/8 miles, and is much more likely to run in the Ladies' Classic. But she was a most impressive winner of the Grade 1 Ballerina last time out at the Filly and Mare Sprint distance of seven furlongs, beating Indian Blessing by more than five lengths. So, that raises the question of whether Music Note will be cross-entered in the Ladies' Classic and this race.

"We'll see how she runs going nine furlongs" in the Beldame, Mettee said of Music Note, "though she did win at 10 furlongs last year. But with the way she ran last time, there's no reason not to think about cross-entering her."