Nearly one year ago, Miss Ella splashed down the stretch of the Saratoga Race Course main track on her way to a 2 1/2-length victory in the Caress Stakes. Heavy rains forced the 5 1/2-furlong stakes to move to the sloppy, sealed dirt course, but the daughter of Exchange Rate adapted, leading at every call. Monday, overnight rains and occasional afternoon showers left the Saratoga turf course labeled good and the Caress was the only race left on the grass. The surface didn’t affect Miss Ella, who rolled to another win in the $200,000 feature.
“I wasn’t sure how soft the turf was going to be with it raining a little bit, but the turf is in good condition,” winning rider Joel Rosario said. “It’s definitely not soft-soft. It was good. Sometimes you play how it is and you have to go with the horse, whatever they feel like.”
Miss Ella raced last of nine in the early stages as Paquita Coqueta posted an opening quarter in :21.84. Turning for home, Rosario angled Miss Ella off the fence and tracked Carolina Shag, who advanced down the center of the course. As Paquita Conqueta tired past a :45 half, Carolina Shag struck the lead and Fair Point charged to her outside. Rosario pointed Miss Ella between those two and with clear running room, she surged. Ridden out to the wire, she beat Fair Point by a length. Carolina Shag was another half-length behind in third.
Miss Ella stopped the timer in 1:02.30 and returned $7.80 to win as the tepid 5/2 favorite.
“She’s very easy to ride. She’s a sweetheart. She just does whatever you want to do,” Rosario explained. “You can wait. If you want to put her in the race, she can do that too. Sometimes that makes my job a little easier.”
Graham Motion trains Miss Ella for owner and breeder Jack Swain III. The pair also campaigned Miss Ella’s dam Sweet Tune. Alice Clapham, Motion’s assistant, said the two share similar qualities.
“She’s actually very like her mother Sweet Tune,” Clapham said. “They’re both very similar in temperament and everything. They’re both very laid back and very easy fillies to deal with. They love to train and love to run.
“She’s one of the barn favorites. She’s a very cool filly and everyone loves being around her. Jack, who owns her, loves her very much. We’ve had a couple now that we’ve trained that’s he’s kept and had a couple of the family. Jack just loves the horses and loves the racing.”
Miss Ella’s Caress victory is the sixth in her 16-race career and boosts her earnings to $595,334. She gave Motion his second win of the meet. Another five of Motion’s horses placed in nine starts.
“They’ve all run really well. A couple were a little frustrating, but they’ve all run huge,” Clapham said. “Every horse has been in the money, so you can’t really complain about that.”
Rosario is also off to a fast start. Miss Ella was his fourth winner of the meet as he is third in the jockey standings with four days of racing complete.
“It’s been great so far,” he said. “We keep on working hard and to go forward, we’re always looking for one more winner every day.”