Updated on 09/15/2011 12:53PM

Third try for Beautiful Pleasure


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Beautiful Pleasure has won the past two runnings of the Personal Ensign, but losses in both of her starts this year suggest she may not be able to pull off a three-peat on Friday at Saratoga.

The Eclipse Award-winning filly or mare two years ago, Beautiful Pleasure looks vulnerable as she meets six other fillies and mares in the $400,000 Personal Ensign, a Grade 1 handicap at 1 1/4 miles.

The Personal Ensign drew a strong field, including Go for Wand winner Serra Lake and runner-up Pompeii; Irving's Baby, a four-time winner at the distance, including three stakes; and Grade 1 winner Critical Eye, who is looking to atone for a rare clunker in the Go for Wand. Stakes winners Lady Melesi and Catch the Ring are also entered.

Bettors may have a difficult time settling on a favorite. Racing secretary Mike Lakow shared high weight of 117 pounds among five horses: Beautiful Pleasure, Critical Eye, Irving's Baby, Pompeii, and Serra Lake.

Serra Lake, who became a Grade 1 winner in the Go for Wand, is a powerhouse at nine furlongs, but finished sixth in her only start at 1 1/4 miles in last year's Ladies.

"The distance won't bother her. Her mother [Tara Roma] won the Ladies," said Serra Lake's trainer, Shug McGaughey, who twice has won this race and trained the champion for which it is named.

Edgar Prado returns on Serra Lake from post 7.

Pompeii was beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Serra Lake in the Go for Wand.

Her trainer, John Kimmel, said, "In her last, she went after Beautiful Pleasure a little early because that mare was getting away, and our horse was put into a pretty hard drive outside the half-mile pole. She has the pedigree to go a mile and a quarter."

Richard Migliore rides Pompeii, who drew post 6.

Beautiful Pleasure, who will be the pacesetter, finished seventh in the Grade 1 Hempstead in June, her first race since the Breeders' Cup Distaff. A 6-year-old, Beautiful Pleasure came back in the Go for Wand and finished fifth after owning a 12-length lead at one point.

"Yes, I do think she got something out of both races," said Donna Ward, who trains the mare along with her husband, John Ward. "Speed was not lacking, it was the strength to carry her big body on. Hopefully, the fitness is there now."

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