08/26/2011 2:54PM

Saratoga: Several factors favor Super Espresso in Personal Ensign


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Added distance, a wet track, and the potential for more speed in the field could help Super Espresso turn the tables on Ask the Moon when those two meet for the second time this meet in Sunday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Personal Ensign Invitational at Saratoga.

Of course, that’s provided there is a Sunday card at Saratoga. As of Friday afternoon, New York Racing Association officials were working under the premise that three to seven inches of rain could fall in the area on Sunday with winds anywhere from 25-to-50-mile per hour with gusts approaching 60 miles an hour. NYRA president Charles Hayward said Friday that a decision on Sunday’s card wouldn’t be made until Saturday at the earliest.

Should there be racing Sunday, it is a virtual certainty it will be conducted over a wet track. Super Espresso is 2 for 3 over wet surfaces, including a victory in the Sky Beauty Stakes run over Aqueduct’s inner track in February.

Super Espresso won the Allaire DuPont Distaff at Pimlico in May before finishing third to Awesome Maria in the Ogden Phipps and second to a loose-on-the-lead Ask the Moon in the Ruffian Invitational here on July 31. The Personal Ensign is run at 1 1/4 miles, an eighth of a mile farther than the Ruffian.

“This filly I think is going to relish the mile and a quarter, it should be right up alley,’’ said Todd Pletcher, who trains Super Espresso for celebrity chef Bobby Flay. “I would expect her to handle an off track fine. We’re thinking she’s going to show up and have a lot to say about the outcome.’’

Ask the Moon is a four-time winner over wet surfaces but ran the race of her life over a fast track in the Ruffian Invitational when she carved out fast fractions and kept on going, rolling to a 5 3/4-length victory. She was sent off at odds of 18-1 in part because she had been claimed for $75,000 in June.

Marty Wolfson, who trains Ask the Moon, said his 6-year-old mare will handle an off track, but he’s not as sure about 1 1/4 miles.

“That’s suspect,’’ Wolfson said. “She trains like she’ll run a mile and a quarter.’’

Wolfson doesn’t think the opposition will take her any more seriously on Sunday than they did in the Ruffian.

“They probably think she’s just a 75-claimer that jumped up,’’ Wolfson said. “This filly has a lot of class. She’s very nice.’’

Wolfson is confident Ask the Moon will be the controlling speed once again under Javier Castellano. However, horses such as Acronym and Pachattack figure to be forwardly placed as well.

Pachattack, a 5-year-old daughter of Pulpit, is making her first start on dirt after running 17 times on turf and six on synthetic surfaces. She has won at 1 1/4 miles having taken the Maple Leaf Stakes last fall at Woodbine. Pachattack comes out of an eighth-place finish in the Beverly D. run over yielding turf on Aug. 13.

“She missed the break and didn’t really get going until the last three furlongs,’’ said Andrew Morris, assistant to trainer Gerard Butler. “She couldn’t get her feet out of the mud. She came out of the race very, very well and we decided to bring her up here take a chance.’’

Shug McGaughey, who won this race four times,including last year with Persistently, sends out Protesting off a 5 3/4-length allowance win here on July 27.

Tiz Miz Sue, who finished third but was disqualified to fourth in the Ruffian, completes the field.