08/24/2009 11:00PM

Informed Decision sharp for Ballerina

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Barbara D. Livingston
Informed Decision tunes up for Saturday's Ballerina by working five furlongs in a bullet 58.09 seconds Tuesday morning.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - For a guy better known for his steeplechase horses and long-distance turf runners, Jonathan Sheppard has quite the sprint filly in his barn, too. Informed Decision has won five straight races, and will try to secure her position as the front-runner for a year-end female sprint championship when she takes on the reigning Eclipse Award winner, Indian Blessing, in the Grade 1, $300,000 Ballerina Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga.

Tuesday morning at Saratoga, Informed Decision signaled her readiness for the Ballerina with a sharp five-furlong work in 58.09 seconds, the fastest of 33 at the distance.

"I'm very happy with her. I thought she went great," Sheppard said

Informed Decision already has won a pair of Grade 1 races this year, the Madison on Polytrack at Keeneland, and the Humana Distaff on dirt at Churchill Downs. Her ability to perform well on both synthetic surfaces and dirt has given Sheppard plenty of options. She comes off a win on Polytrack at Arlington on July 4.

"We went there because the Ballerina was the major objective, and we just worked backwards from that," Sheppard said. "There was a race at Belmont Park, too, but the prize money was the same, and we thought the Chicago race would be easier, just something to keep her ticking over, so to speak."

The Ballerina is at seven furlongs, the distance of her last five wins, as well as the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, her year-end goal.

The presence of Indian Blessing and Informed Decision is expected to keep the Ballerina field small. Modification, Music Note, and P.S.U. Grad are likely to run, and Keep the Peace and Spritely are possible.

Diamondrella to skip Ballston Spa

The recent spate of wet weather has put a crimp in trainer Angel Penna Jr.'s plans for his top turf mare Diamondrella. So instead of seeking her seventh straight win in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Ballston Spa Stakes here, Diamondrella will most likely make her next start in the $400,000 Presque Isle Downs Masters on Sept. 12.

The Presque Isle Masters is a 6 1/2-furlong race run over a synthetic surface. Penna would use that race to find out how Diamondrella handles synthetic surfaces as a way to learn if he should point the 5-year-old mare to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 6. Santa Anita employs a Pro-Ride surface, which is different than the Tapeta utilized by Presque Isle.

"This weather's been tough, we were in between the both of them, but if we're going to run in the Breeders' Cup it's going to be seven-eighths on the Poly," said Penna, as opposed to a mile or 1 3/8 miles on turf. "We need to try her on that one time."

Diamondrella has won her last six starts dating back to June 12, 2008, all on turf at a mile or shorter. She has not run since winning the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont on June 6.

Rain canceled turf works here on Monday, and Penna wanted to get Diamondrella one more solid work before the Ballston Spa, a two-turn, 1 1/16-mile race. Diamondrella has yet to race around two turns.

"You can't run that type of race - two turns - with a filly like this at 80 percent," Penna said of the Ballston Spa. "We keep changing plans. The only constant thing in this game is change."

Capt. Candyman Can ready for King's Bishop

Overlooked by Quality Road's track-record performance winning the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes on Aug. 3, was the effort put in by runner-up Capt. Candyman Can in the same race.

Capt. Candyman Can rallied five wide in the stretch, and was beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Quality Road while finishing four lengths clear of the rest of the field. His final clocking too would have been considered a track record.

"My horse ran a winning race except he ran into one that ran a little faster," trainer Ian Wilkes said. "He lays it on the line every time."

On Tuesday, Capt. Candyman Can worked four furlongs in 49.43 seconds over Saratoga's main track in company with the 3-year-old filly Exquisite Option. The two basically worked head and head for the entire move, getting the last quarter in 23.91 seconds. Tracey Wilkes, Ian's wife, was aboard for the move.

"The main thing I told Tracey was I didn't want to go too fast early, let him finish a little and gallop out strong," Ian Wilkes said.

Forego or Woodward for Past the Point

Past the Point put a scare into Curlin in last year's Woodward Stakes, finishing second. He could go in this year's Woodward, but he is also under consideration for the Forego Stakes the same day, Sept 5. Both are Grade 1 races, but the similarities end there. The Forego is at seven furlongs. The Woodward is at 1 1/8 miles. And the Woodward has Rachel Alexandra.

"Do we want to go in the Forego, or do we want to take on Rachel Alexandra?" trainer Eoin Harty said.

Past the Point won going seven furlongs earlier this meet, and on Tuesday morning, he stayed sharp with a half-mile work in 47.89 seconds.

"He's a horse who's been an enigma wrapped in a riddle," Harty said. "He makes these huge, sweeping moves, and looks like he's going to draw off, but then he just stays there. That's been the story of his whole career. I think that would be his M.O. whether he runs a half-mile or 1 1/2 miles. He did nearly beat Curlin last year, so he's got that in his arsenal."

* Jockey Maylan Studart, sidelined since June 18 due to a broken leg, returns to the saddle in the afternoon on Thursday. The 20-year-old is named on three horses, though one is buried on the also-eligible list. She is also named to ride one mount Friday.

- additional reporting by David Grening