Personal Ensign preview: Ginger Snap

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Nuno Santos gets to gallop Ginger Punch. Angel Cordero gets to breeze her. Ruben Loza gets to oversee her. Jose Cuevas gets to pretend he’s training her.

The foursome did their level best Thursday morning, a day before the reigning champion was set to take on five rivals in the Grade I Personal Ensign. Trainer Bobby Frankel traveled to California and left the training duties to Santos, Cordero, Loza and Cuevas.

By 9 in the morning, Ginger Punch had cooled out from her gallop (moved up an hour because she was running the next day) and was eating from her hay net. The chestnut mare rattled the hay net, then grabbed the rubber runner across her stall and went back to eating.

Her compatriots were busy, but not too busy to talk about the $2.7 million earner.

“Class. Class. Class. She’s easy to ride. She does whatever you want,” Santos said. “No attitude, other than she hates when you push her, if you smooch at her, even a little, she pins her ears, that’s it.”

Born in Portugal, Santos has been galloping Ginger Punch for about a year. He’s watched her fill out and grow up.

“She changed totally. Her weight, her attitude, she keeps her weight, she’s stronger. She’s just classy,” Santos said. “This is one of those things that give you goosebumps. The way she gallops, she’s happy. Happy. This is her year.”

So far, Ginger Punch has won four of five starts; the only blemish came when she was on the lead in the Apple Blossom and faded badly, finishing 8 lengths behind the undefeated Zenyatta.

Any advice about galloping her, Nuno?

“Just leave her alone, let her do her job, she just floats around there,” Santos said. “A horse passes her, she plays with the horse. Just leave her alone.”

And if she were a woman?

“Halle Berry,” Santos said. “Definitely Halle Berry.”

Santos hands the reins to Cordero for all breezes. The Hall of Famer put her through an easy 5 furlongs over the Oklahoma in 1:00 2/5 a week ago. It could have been 58 or 1:04.

“She’s beautiful. She’s nice, quiet, very obedient, sound, doesn’t make a noise, very smart, very good to hang around with. She will go in any time Bobby wants her to go in,” Cordero said. “I used to work Sightseek for him – she was tough, she’d go in 58, 59, no matter how hard you tried. This one is very obedient, she knows the rules. She goes by herself, she doesn’t make you worry. She’s very athletic, although she doesn’t look like it, if you didn’t know it was Ginger Punch walking past you, you wouldn’t think anything about her.”

And if she were a woman?

“Mariah Carey,” Cordero said, “but better.”

Loza and Cuevas couldn’t decide.

“Britney Spears,” Cuevas said.

“Not even close,” Loza said.