09/12/2009 12:00AM

Masters attracts Breeders' Cup hopefuls

Barbara D. Livingston
Informed Decision, shown in a Saratoga workout, is the likely favorite for the Grade 3 Masters.

When Presque Isle Downs opened in 2007, management positioned its premier event, the $400,000 Presque Isle Downs Masters, in September to serve a stepping-stone to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Miss Macy Sue won the inaugural Masters and went on to finish third in the Filly and Mare Sprint in the Monmouth Park slop.

This year's Masters, which will be run as a Grade 3 for the first time, has attracted the best field of horses ever assembled at Presque Isle and has a chance to better that result. Several members of the 12-horse field, including the likely favorite Informed Decision, are using the 6 1/2-furlong race over Tapeta as a prep for the Filly and Mare Sprint, which will be run over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride track on Nov. 6.

Informed Decision, owned by the Augustin Stable of George Strawbridge, had won five stakes in a row, including a pair of Grade 1's, before finishing third in the Ballerina at Saratoga on Aug. 29. Her trainer, Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, believes her performance was hindered by track conditions.

"The slop that day was horrendous, the race didn't set up the way she likes it, and I think the bad slop bothered her," he said. "We weren't planning on running her back so soon, but since she ate up and was feeling so well, Mr. Strawbridge thought we should give it a shot."

Sheppard thinks the Masters will set up better for his filly than the Ballerina.

"Ideally she likes to tuck in behind a few horses, and she just broke too fast in her last," he said.

Informed Decision's regular rider, Julien Leparoux, has the mount.

Informed Decision is 4 for 4 on synthetic surfaces.

Several others in the field are using the Masters as a testing ground for the Breeders' Cup.

Diamondrella has won six races in a row but has yet to run on synthetic. The Masters will be her first start since winning the Grade 1 Just a Game on the Belmont Park turf June 6.

"We know she loves to sprint and we know she loves the turf," said trainer Angel Penna Jr. "We need to find out if she likes the synthetic before we ship her across the country."

Rajiv Maragh will ride

Game Face will be trying a synthetic surface for the first time. Game Face has won four graded stakes this year, including the Grade 1 Princess Rooney on the Calder dirt.

"It should set up well for her just-off-the-pace style," trainer Todd Pletcher said.

Edgar Prado will be aboard.