Updated on 09/18/2011 2:01PM

Informed Decision nearly perfect in 2009


Jonathan Sheppard scarcely could have drawn up a more successful campaign for Informed Decision in 2009. The Hall of Fame trainer worked backward, with the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint always in mind, and the results were a near-perfect season that earned her an Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter.

Informed Decision won all but one of her seven starts in 2009, culminating with a victory in the Nov. 6 Filly and Mare Sprint over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita. Owned by the Augustin Stable of George Strawbridge Jr., Informed Decision had established a foundation for her breakthrough year by winning five of seven starts as a 3-year-old of 2008.

Starting her 2009 campaign in early April at Keeneland following a layoff of nearly six months, Informed Decision rallied late to be up in the final strides to capture the Grade 1 Madison Stakes by a head. Finishing second in that seven-furlong Polytrack race was Ventura, the defending Filly and Mare Sprint champion who ultimately would prove her main rival in the 2009 Breeders' Cup.

Informed Decision made her second start of the year on the Kentucky Derby undercard and used the same furious stretch run to narrowly prevail in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff over a sloppy main track at Churchill Downs. She then made her next start two months later, easily winning the Grade 3 Chicago Handicap on July 4 at Arlington Park.

Eight weeks later came the only bump in the road, as Informed Decision failed to handle a sloppy track at Saratoga when finishing third on Aug. 29 to Music Note in the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes. Bouncing back just two weeks later, the filly outclassed her rivals in the $400,000 Presque Isle Downs Masters, prevailing by 2 1/2 lengths over the Tapeta synthetic as an odds-on favorite.

Sheppard, who enjoyed a career-best year in stable earnings with more than $5.4 million, then zeroed in on the critical two-race segment that would end the year. Early one morning at Keeneland, a few days before Informed Decision was to run in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, he stopped to talk about the standout filly.

"She is very intelligent, very willing, an incredibly lovely filly," he said.

In the six-furlong TCA on Oct. 10, Informed Decision appeared bound for defeat, but she summoned up another late flourish, catching and passing Carlsbad in the final 70 yards to narrowly score.

Then came the $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint. Breaking sharply from a favorable outside post, she ran arguably the best race of her life, stalking longshot Free Flying Soul into defeat and finishing 1 1/4 lengths clear of a belated run from Ventura, the 4-5 favorite.

"She was awesome today," jockey Julien Leparoux said afterward.

Informed Decision, a gray filly by Monarchos, was bred in Kentucky by the husband-wife team of veterinarians Charles Kidder and Nancy Cole. For 2009, she earned $1,435,030, bringing her career totals to 11 wins from 14 starts and earnings of $1,771,617. Leparoux rode the filly in all of her 2009 races except the Madison, when John Velazquez was aboard.

Strawbridge and Sheppard have said they intend to race Informed Decision as a 5-year-old mare in 2010, with the Madison once again likely to be her first start and the Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill being the year-end goal.