Eblouissante, half sister of 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, will return to the races July 20 when she aims for her first career stakes win in the $200,000 84 Lumber Shuvee Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.
Off since extending her record to 2-for-2 on Jan. 17 in Southern California, the 4-year-old daughter of Bernardini is one of seven fillies and mares entered in Saturday's 1 ⅛-mile race, although she is one of several potential starters in the field cross-entered in other races.
Eblouissante, whose name means "dazzling" in French, did not make her debut until late in her 3-year-old season, posting an easy 4 ¼-length victory going 1 1/16 miles on the synthetic track at Betfair Hollywood Park. Two months later, she scored by 1 ¾ lengths at the same distance in an optional claimer at Santa Anita Park. After some minor issues, she has been training forwardly at Belmont Park since her arrival from the West Coast, most recently breezing seven furlongs in 1:27.18 July 14.
"After she arrived here she has started to fill out," said trainer John Shirreffs of the imposing filly who stands nearly 17 hands tall. "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."
Eblouissante, who is also under consideration for an optional claimer around two turns July 22 at the Spa as well, drew post position 3 for the Shuvee with Junior Alvarado named to ride. She was listed at 4-1 on the morning line.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won last year's Shuvee with Awesome Maria, has entered Padua Stables' Authenticity, the 7-5 morning-line favorite. The 6-year-old mare, unraced in 2012, is 2-2-1 in five starts this year for Pletcher, including a victory in the La Troienne May 3 at Churchill Downs and a pair of seconds in the Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park and the Rampart at Gulfstream Park.
"She's been extremely consistent," said Pletcher of Authencity, who was cross-entered in the Delaware Handicap. "She's a very straightforward mare to train; push button. It's a drop down from a Grade 1, but it doesn't appear to be an easy race if everyone shows up. We're not anticipating they're going to give anything away at Saratoga; they usually don't."
Authenticity drew post 7 with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard. Drawing adjacent were the 1-2 finishers in the Allaire DuPont Distaff May 18 at Pimlico Race Course, with winner Summer Applause in post position 6 and Sea Island directly inside.
Owned by Gillian S. Campbell, the 4-year-old Summer Applause won the Top Flight Handicap in March at Aqueduct Racetrack in her first start for trainer Chad Brown. She next finished fourth in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.
"She's training well," said Brown of Summer Applause, who also was cross-entered in the Delaware Handicap. The filly was listed as the 2-1 second choice on the morning line for the Shuvee, with Javier Castellano named to ride.
Sea Island, who won an optional claimer at the Shuvee distance last summer, launched her 4-year-old campaign with a second in a turf allowance at Keeneland prior to the DuPont. Most recently she finished last of six over a sloppy track in the Mariensky overnight stakes at Belmont for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. At 10-1 on the morning line, the Phipps Stable color-bearer will be ridden by Jose Lezcano.
Rounding out the field are Flashy American, winner of the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows last time out; Moon Philly, fifth in the DuPont; and Royal Lahaina, winner of the Mariensky.