John Shirreffs on Friday indicated to NYRA Press that Eblouissante, a half-sister to Horse of the Year Zenyatta, will make her long-awaited return to the races during opening week at Saratoga.
Shirreffs said she will start either in the Grade 3, $200,000 Shuvee Handicap on July 20 or a second-level optional claimer on July 22.
“She has a work coming up, maybe tomorrow or the next day, and then we’ll make a final decision,” said Shirreffs. “It’s been a while since she has run.”
Eblouissante, who will carry the colors of the late Eric Kronfeld, is unbeaten in two starts but hasn’t raced since clearing the first allowance condition on January 17 at Santa Anita. In April, the 4-year-old departed California when Shirreffs brought a string of runners to New York.
“After she arrived here she has started to fill out,” said Shirreffs. “She has grown a lot and has put on a significant amount of weight, so I’m really happy with the way she has developed over the last month. She looks strong. I think time is the most important ingredient in a horse’s development. Their bodies need a chance to catch up.”
By waiting for the Saratoga meet, Shirreffs will get to run Eblouissante around two turns as almost all of Belmont Park’s route races are contested around a single turn. Both the Shuvee and the July 22 optional claimer are scheduled to be run at 1 1/8 miles.
“The dynamics of the two-turn races are entirely different from one-turn races,” said Shirreffs. “I love two-turn races and prefer them to one-turn races, personally. I think they give horses a chance to get into the gate, go into the turn, relax, find position. There’s a chance to use a few different gears.”