Reigning champion older mare Midnight Bisou will have a new rider on Saturday when she defends her title in Saturday’s $500,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, a 1 1/8-mile event she won in gutsy fashion by a nose last year from Elate.
Due to restrictions imposed because of COVID-19, the Saratoga-based Ricardo Santana Jr. will fill in for regular rider Mike Smith aboard the 5-year-old Steve Asmussen trainee, who won seven of eight starts last season en route to Eclipse Award honors.
The Midnight Lute mare kicked off 2020 in fine style, finishing a game second to Maximum Security in the inaugural $20 million Saudi Cup, and on June 27 returned to score in the Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs by 8 1/4 lengths over returning rival Motion Emotion.
The champion’s main rival might be Point of Honor, who last year placed in both the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and Alabama (G1) over the Saratoga strip after taking the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico. Winless in three starts this term, the George Weaver-trained filly was a rallying third in the Apple Blossom H. (G1) two back and missed in a photo last out in the Ogden Phipps (G1).
Also among the six lining up is Vexatious, runner-up to Monomoy Girl in the Ruffian (G2) on July 11.
The Personal Ensign is a “Win & You’re” Breeders’ Cup Challenge event, which Midnight Bisou already qualified for in taking the Fleur de Lis.