10/14/2009 12:00AM

Informed Decision sets sights on Ventura


With her up-in-the-shadow-of-the-wire victory in last Saturday's at Keeneland, a win that kept her undefeated on synthetic surfaces, Informed Decision might have secured the role as second favorite in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Now, Informed Decision can set her sights on race favorite and defending Filly and Mare Sprint winner Ventura, much like she did when the two met last April in the Vinery Madison Stakes at Keeneland.

Informed Decision was the second choice in the betting in the Madison behind the 2-5 Ventura and got up in the final jumps to beat her rival by a head. Informed Decision deserved a lot of credit for turning in a performance like that as she hadn't raced in six months. But in truth, the photo could have easily gone the other way had the Bobby Frankel-trained Ventura not gone very wide into the stretch.

This is not lost on Jonathan Sheppard, trainer of Informed Decision. And after getting another first-hand look at Ventura when she turned in her outstanding victory under Garrett Gomez in the in September, he has a healthy respect for the mare they all have to beat in this Breeders' Cup event.

"She's a wonderful horse, and she has an outstanding trainer, and an outstanding jockey," Sheppard said of Ventura. "She had a nice break during the summer and was brilliant in her win at Woodbine against the boys. I respect her very much, and she'll be tough, of course."

But so will Informed Decision, who has won five graded stakes from six starts this year, with her only loss being a third in the Ballerina over a sloppy track she didn't like.

"She wasn't even blowing after the Ballerina," Sheppard said. "That's why I ran her back in two weeks."

Informed Decision's obvious affinity for synthetic surfaces - the TCA Stakes was her sixth score on such tracks - is something she shares with Ventura and could give her an advantage on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface over other top Filly and Mare Sprint contenders such as Sara Louise and Seventh Street, neither of whom has raced on a synthetic track, and Indian Blessing, who is thought to be most effective on dirt.

"I think part of it is coincidence," Sheppard said when asked about his filly's perfect synthetic-track record. "She runs very well on conventional dirt. She won a Grade 1 on dirt. I think part of it is, we love Keeneland, we race there frequently, and they happen to have a synthetic surface. I had a string at Presque Isle Downs. They have a synthetic surface, and she raced there, too. I think the thing is, she doesn't like to get a lot of stuff in her face."

While this will be Informed Decision's first start on Pro-Ride, it might help her that her 6-for-6 synthetic-track record was fashioned on three different synthetic surfaces, with Arlington being the other synthetic track she has won over.

"I don't think there's a whole lot to choose from between synthetic surfaces," Sheppard said. "The only change might be in how tight they are. I can't imagine it'll be a loose track in California, so I'm confident she'll handle the track out there."