10/21/2009 12:00AM

Ventura will stay on her proven path

Email

Going from a one-mile turf race against males to a seven-furlong main-track event for females like the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint isn't exactly the kind of race progression most of us would think of, but it worked famously last year for Ventura.

Last year, Ventura finished a strong second in early September in the Woodbine Mile on turf, a surface on which she was a Grade 1 winner earlier in 2008. Ventura's Woodbine Mile performance gave her as legitimate a license as anyone to take her chances in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Instead, come Breeders' Cup time, Ventura switched to Santa Anita's synthetic Pro-Ride surface, cut back in distance to seven furlongs, and moved back in with members of her own sex. And all Ventura did was completely dominate the Filly and Mare Sprint, coming from way back and drawing off to score by four lengths over Indian Blessing, who wound up getting the divisional Eclipse Award anyway.

Fast-forward to this year, and it would be understandable if you would think a different approach would be taken with Ventura. After all, this Juddmonte homebred seems different this year. Judging from her powerful score in the Woodbine Mile last month off a five-month layoff, Ventura, if anything, seems even better. But she's going to stick with what worked. Ventura is going for a repeat victory in the Filly and Mare Sprint, in which she will be a strong favorite.

"Initially, the Mile would be the race to look at," explained John Chandler, president of Juddmonte Farm's North American operation. "But we have always figured Goldikova into the whole affair."

Goldikova, of course, came from France last year to beat males in the Mile in most impressive fashion. Goldikova will be attempting a Breeders' Cup repeat herself next month, although she will be going into the Mile off a surprising loss at Longchamp on Arc weekend.

"I know Goldikova disappointed last time," Chandler said.

But he saw her crush the field at Deauville in the Prix Jacques le Marois two starts back, and that performance left an impression.

"We're figuring on her being like that," he said.

Chandler said another important consideration in going for the Filly and Mare Sprint again with Ventura is that it is a Grade 1 race this year, unlike last year when it was not graded.

"We thought if we could win it once, we could do it again," Chandler added. "She has a better shot in this race than in the Mile."