OLDSMAR, Fla. -- Entering a horse in a graded stakes going a middle distance off a more than five-month layoff would normally draw more than a fair share of skeptics and naysayers.
But Silver Reunion, who will make her first start since August when she faces nine filly and mares in Saturday's Grade 3 Endeavour, is no ordinary runner and her trainer, English-born Graham Motion, is no ordinary trainer.
Silver Reunion hasn't started since finishing second in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga. She came into that race having not seen action since October 2009. But the 10-month layoff and the fact she broke through the gate prior to the start did little to deter Silver Reunion as she set solid fractions, then continued gamely before losing by a half-length to Dynaslew while posting a 98 Beyer Speed Figure.
That performance and the fact Silver Reunion, now 5, has matured physically and mentally in the past year have Motion thinking Silver Reunion's best races are ahead of her.
"She had issues early on and she was a bit headstrong and hard to control but she's come to hand both physically and mentally," said Motion, who won 97 races last year, including the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf with Shared Account. "She's had several solid breezes at Palm Meadows, including one where she finished off with a good seven-furlong gallop out. She's already shown she can come off a layoff ready to run well."
Silver Reunion runs on the front end but will face several others with tactical speed in the Endeavour, a 1 1/16-mile turf race with a purse of $125,000. Motion says if someone else takes the lead, Silver Reunion should be able to settle off the pace for jockey Ramon Dominguez.
"I'm confident she would allow the rider to place her forwardly if she doesn't get the lead out of the gate," he said.
Scolara comes into the Endeavour off a third in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf in her 2011 debut. She will no doubt draw a good bit of public attention.
C.S Silk and Kiss Mine both have good speed, and while they disappointed in the Grade 3 Marshua's River, finishing 10th and 11th, both were stakes-placed against graded company on the turf last season.
You Go West Girl dead-heated for the win in a local prep for the Endeavour last out while making her first start since October, and Denomination, who was impressive blowing away a field of optional claimers here in December, can't be taken lightly.
The Endeavour will be run as race 11 and is the third of three stakes on the card.