The Grade 2, $175,000 Bessarabian Stakes at Woodbine brings together a very strong field of female sprinters, with at least three of them having tremendous records to date.
Leading the field in career wins are Artie’s Princess and Lorena, both with seven victories to date. Artie’s Princess has earned her wins in 11 races on synthetic surfaces, most recently in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes in September. Lorena has won five times on all-weather tracks in 10 tries, but her most recent win came on grass in the Zadracarta Stakes two months ago. The highest synthetic-track win percentage belongs to Loyalty, who is undefeated in four tries including in the Duchess Stakes on Oct. 1. Another with a strong synthetic record is Hazelbrook, who has won six times in nine tries on the surface, all at Woodbine, including the Grade 3 Ontario Fashion Stakes four weeks ago. Beyond Mybudget has been close in similar races, particularly when just three-quarters of a length behind Hazelbrook in the Ontario Fashion Stakes last month. Our Flash Drive won the De La Rose Stakes on the grass at Saratoga this summer and fits here based on her runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Ontario Matron Stakes three weeks ago on the main track at Woodbine. Allworthy hopes to improve off a third-place finish in the Presque Isle Downs Masters behind Artie’s Princess. Awesome Treat beat much easier foes at this track and distance two weeks ago and races in a stakes race for the first time. Sweet Enough imported from England in the spring and finished 10th on grass and returns to the races following six months off. Her last win came in the British Stallion Studs EBF Handicap Stakes in the summer of 2021.
Loyalty is the only 3-year-old in the field and that’s the key to success as the last two winners of this race were 3-year-olds when they crossed the finish line in front. In 2020, Artie’s Princess won this race following a win in a non-graded stakes at Woodbine at a similar distance, and last year Lady Speightspeare won this race as a 3-year-old as well. Loyalty just won the non-graded Duchess Stakes at the distance of the Bessarabian, coasting to a 1 ½-length win after opening up by three lengths early in the stretch. She’s undefeated in four races on the Woodbine main track, and since that last race she put in a splendid half-mile drill which was the third best of 82 timed workouts at the distance on the day, telling us she’s maintaining top form. Loyalty actually beat older horses earlier this year, in her second career start, earning a career-best 103 Equibase Speed Figure at the time. That figure stacks up well with Artie’s Princess’ best figure (104) and Hazelbrook’s best (106), particularly as logic would dictate as a more mature horse in November as compared with May, Loyalty should be bigger and stronger and capable of running even faster.
Hazelbrook has had a fantastic 2022 campaign, winning four of five and missing by three-quarters of a length in the other. That loss came to the aforementioned Lady Speightspeare, winner of this race last year, and in that race, the Seaway Stakes, Hazelbrook closed fast from seventh to get within a head of the eventual winner before missing by three-quarters of a length, earning a 100 speed figure. She improved to a career-best 106 Equibase Speed Figure in a win in the Ontario Fashion Stakes last month. If there is one question mark, it might be this seven-furlong trip as that is the distance of her only loss this year, as compared with Loyalty, who won the only time she ran at this distance.
Artie’s Princess won the 2020 edition of the Bessarabian with a game effort by a neck after opening up by a couple of lengths at the top of the stretch. She went on the sidelines from June of 2021 until May 2022 and only managed a fourth-place effort in her comeback, but she’s won two of three starts since the. The best of those came in her most recent race Sept. 19 when she rallied from eighth of nine to win the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes with a career-best 104 speed figure. Jose Ortiz rode Artie’s Princess for the first time in that race and foregoes an entire day of racing at his home base at Aqueduct to once again ride this mare.
The rest of the field (with best Equibase Speed Figure): Allworthy (99), Awesome Treat (90). Beyond MyBudget (104), Lorena (94), Our Flash Drive (104) and Sweet Enough (106).
Win Contenders (in probability/preference order):