No Denying By the Moon in This Year's Ballerina
By Frank Angst, courtesy Blood-Horse
This time By the Moon would not be denied.
The Jay Em Ess Stable homebred set a slow opening quarter-mile fraction, then held off all challenges in the stretch to post a narrow victory in the $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina Stakes (G1) Aug. 26 at Saratoga Race Course.
The second grade 1 victory of By the Moon's career came one year after the Indian Charlie mare finished a close second in the Ballerina, just a half-length behind Haveyougoneaway. This year she edged Highway Star by a head, holding her off through the final furlong.
"She's just always been like that," trainer Michelle Nevin said. "She's going to give you whatever she's got. I'm so proud of her."
By the Moon registered her first grade 1 win as a juvenile in 2014, taking the Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park. She has competed at the top level for four years and has won four other stakes, with three other grade 1 placings.
With Rajiv Maragh aboard Saturday, By the Moon registered the opening quarter-mile in :24.05 and a half-mile in :47.81 while being shadowed by Highway Star. In the stretch, By the Moon and Highway Star battled to the wire, with By the Moon completing the seven-furlong test for fillies and mares in 1:22.97. Carina Mia rallied for third in the field of seven.
Maragh said a key to By the Moon's strong finish was the fact that she settled well through the backstretch.
"The race kind of looked like there wasn't a true clear-cut speed horse," Maragh said. "My filly has been better off stalking a horse in the past, but we thought that if we were going to get an easy lead we shouldn't give that up. No one really wanted to get in the lead, so we tried to take advantage of that."
In securing the victory at odds of 5-1, By the Moon ended the four-race win streak of Paulassilverlining, who began her career in Nevin's barn but was moved to Chad Brown this year when privately purchased by Juddmonte Farms. Paulassilverlining raced in third or fourth throughout but could not find another gear late, fading to fifth.
By the Moon earned an all-fees paid spot in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), as the Ballerina is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race. Nevin said she will plan an approach to that race for By the Moon.
By the Moon paid $13, $6, and $4.20 across the board, while Highway Star returned $6 to place and $4.30 to show. Carina Mia returned $3.80.
Trainer Rodrigo Ubillo was hoping for the win but was pleased with the way Highway Star ran.
"She ran good. She hadn't run for a while and probably needed the race," Ubillo said. "I didn't find anything for her during the time she didn't run, but she ran great, as did the horse that beat us."
By the Moon is out of multiple stakes winner By the Light, by Malibu Moon , and has a 7-6-2 record from 19 starts and earnings of more than $1.5 million.