08/01/2008 11:00PM

Indian Blessing romps in Test

Barbara D. Livingston
Indian Blessing draws off to a seven-length victory in Saturday?s Grade 1 Test at Saratoga, her seventh win in nine career starts.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Indian Blessing's maturation from a one-dimensional speedster to a more relaxed and polished filly continued Saturday at Saratoga when last year's Eclipse Award-winning juvenile filly powered to an easy seven-length victory over Sweet Hope and four other overmatched rivals in the $250,000 Test Stakes.

Rating kindly under jockey John Velazquez while stalking the early leaders five wide through modest fractions of 22.62 seconds and 45.33, Indian Blessing asserted her superiority once roused turning for home in the Grade 1 Test. The 2007 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies champ readily pulled away from Palanka City and J Z Warrior once settling into the stretch, steadily increasing her advantage while kept under steady urging to the wire.

Sweet Hope, who broke a step slowly and raced behind the trio battling for the early lead, rallied mildly to easily be second. Ms Margaret H., who trailed most of the way after also breaking slowly, finished another three lengths back in third. She was followed by the tiring Palanka City, J Z Warrior, and Tequilas Dayjur.

Indian Blessing, a daughter of Indian Charlie and Shameful, completed seven furlongs in 1:22.70 over a fast track and paid $2.80. The victory was her seventh in nine career starts and second in as many appearances at Saratoga. She also won her maiden here last summer. Indian Blessing carried high weight of 122 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Test, conceding four to six pounds to her rivals.

The Test was the fourth Grade 1 win for Indian Blessing, who is owned by Patti and Hal Earnhardt, and came on the heels of a similarly decisive victory in the Grade 1 Prioress at Belmont Park four weeks earlier. The winner's share of $150,000 left her less than $3,000 shy of the $2 million mark in career earnings.

"She's just incredible," said trainer Bob Baffert, who also sent out Indian Blessing's half-brother Spaniard to a second-place finish in a maiden special earlier on the card. "She sure is relaxing nice, isn't she? Sometimes they don't turn it over from 2 to 3. But she's turned it up."

Baffert was uncertain what would be next for Indian Blessing but mentioned the Grade 1 Gazelle at 1 1/8 miles at Belmont on Sept. 13 as an option.

- additional reporting by David Grening