09/03/2011 5:07PM

Replay: Ask the Moon turns back rivals to win Personal Ensign at Saratoga

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Barbara D. Livingston
Ask the Moon wins the Grade 1 Personal Ensign under jockey Javier Castellano.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Ask the Moon validated her 18-1 upset in the Grade 1 Ruffian Invitational five weeks ago with another front-running victory in Saturday's Grade 1 Personal Ensign Invitational at Saratoga.

Setting solid early fractions under jockey Javier Castellano, Ask the Moon won the $300,000 Personal Ensign by 2 3/4 lengths despite drifting out from the three-sixteenths pole to the wire and finishing in the middle of the track. Pachattack, trying dirt for the first time, finished second by a head over Tiz Miz Sue. Protesting, Super Espresso, and Acronym completed the order of finish.

Ask the Moon, a 6-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon, was claimed in June for $75,000 by Myron Miller's Farnsworth Stables and trainer Marty Wolfson.

The Personal Ensign was originally scheduled for Aug. 28, but was postponed six days when that day's card was canceled because of Hurricane Irene.

For Castellano, it was his 11th stakes win of the meet, his fifth Grade 1. In addition to winning two Grade 1's with Ask the Moon, Castellano won the Diana with Zagora, the Ballerina with Hilda's Passion, and the Travers with Stay Thirsty.

As she did in the Ruffian, Ask the Moon played catch-me-if-you can with her Personal Ensign rivals. She cleared the field entering the clubhouse turn and opened up a 1 1/2-length advantage running an opening quarter in 23.43 seconds. She maintained that advantage over Acronym and Pachattack through a half-mile in 47.37 seconds, six furlongs in 1:11.59.

Ask the Moon came into the stretch with a clear lead and despite drifting out she was never seriously threatened. Ask the Moon covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.21. She returned $5.90 as the 9-5 favorite.

"I didn't want to fight too much with her, just let do her thing. She wanted to do it today," Castellano said. "She improved. People say maybe she got lucky last time, they let her go on the lead by herself and she stole the race. I don't think so. Today she improved a lot, she's a nice filly."

Wolfson watched the race from south Florida and called it "an awesome performance."

"She really runs horses off their feet," Wolfson said. "Acronym tried her for a half-mile, she backed up quick. Pachattack tried her, gave a good performance, but she's so fast and has got such a good cruising speed."

Wolfson said Ask the Moon would return to Monmouth Park, but he is not sure when and where she would run again. Wolfson said he would not run her around one turn, meaning the Beldame at Belmont Park is out. Ask the Moon did earn an automatic berth into the Ladies' Classic by virtue of her win in the Ruffian, and Wolfson said it's possible he could just train her up to that race, which will be run on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.