BY BROCK SHERIDAN
Maryquitecontrary will be hoping for improved luck Saturday at Saratoga Race Course when the Florida-bred filly once again faces champions Echo Zulu and Goodnight Olive in the Grade 1 Ballerina for fillies and mares at seven furlongs.
In her previous start, the 4-year-old Maryquitecontrary finished fourth after stumbling at the start of the Grade 2 Honorable Miss won by Echo Zulu going six furlongs at Saratoga on July 26. Just prior to the Honorable Miss, the daughter of Double Diamond Farm stallion First Dude was second to Goodnight Olive in the Grade 1 Madison, run at seven furlongs at Keeneland on April 8.
Those races where her first from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey III and came after she began her career winning seven of her first eight races, all at Gulfstream Park, including a two-and-a-half length triumph in the Grade 2 Inside Information over seven furlongs on Jan. 28. She also counts among her stakes victories the $65,000 Sheer Drama against Florida-bred fillies and mares in September of last year and the $125,000 Rampart in December.
Bred by owner Rodney G. Lundock, Maryquitecontrary has won six of nine starts overall with two seconds while banking $450,580. She is out of the Mecke mare Mary Kate ‘n Kelly and is 15-1 on the morning line.
Luca Panici has been named to ride the bay filly and they have post three.
Echo Zulu looks to build on winning her last two races for trainer Steve Asmussen and owners L and N Racing LLC and Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC. In addition to her seven-and-a-half-length victory in the Honorable Miss, the daughter of Gun Runner won the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs by five-and-three-quarter lengths going six furlongs on May 29.
Named the champion 2-year-old filly in 2021, Echo Zulu is undefeated in three races at Saratoga having also won a maiden special weight and the Grade 1 Spinaway two years ago in the first two starts of her career.
Echo Zulu – Adam Coglianese Photo
Echo Zulu has won eight of 10 starts overall with one second with earnings of $2,365,375.
Florent Geroux, who has ridden in both starts this year, will again take the reins on Echo Zulu and they will break from post six.
Goodnight Olive, the champion female sprinter of 2022 after winning the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint by two-and-a-half lengths ahead of runner-up Echo Zulu at Keeneland, comes into the Ballerina off a neck victory in the Grade 2 Bed o’ Roses at Belmont Park on June 17. That day she finished a neck in front of runner-up Wicked Halo with Caramel Swirl third, both of whom are entered in the Ballerina.
Goodnight Olive had a seven-race win streak snapped two races ago when traffic problems resulted in a third-place finish behind winner and Ballerina foe Matareya and Wicked Halo in the Grade 1 Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs on May 6.
A graduate of the early training program of Paul Sharp of Ocala and sold as a yearling by Ocala’s Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck’s Summerfield, Goodnight Olive has won eight of 10 career starts with a second and a third with earnings of $1,576,200.
The daughter of Ghostzapper out of Salty Strike, by Smart Strike has post seven and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
Completing the entries for the Ballerina are Sterling Silver and jockey Javier Castellano, Matareya with Flavien Prat aboard, Luis Saez rides Dr B, Wicked Halo will carry Tyler Gaffalione and Caramel Swirl will be ridden by Junior Alvarado.