OTB Race Previews
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Michael Dubb and Head of Plains Partners' Uni will be seeking her third consecutive stakes win when she headlines a field of six in the Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel Stakes for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up on Saturday on Belmont Park's Widener turf.
The 31st running of the Noble Damsel, carded as Race 4 at 3.07 p.m., is part of a packed day that will also feature the Grade 2, $300,000 Kelso Handicap in Race 8.
Race 4 on Belmont Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 3:07 PM
|1||Lift Up||8-1||Mario Pino
|2||Uni (GB)||7-5||Joel Rosario
|3||Dream Awhile||2-1||Javier Castellano
|4||Hawksmoor (IRE)||5-2||Manuel Franco
|5||Mythical Mission||15-1||Junior Alvarado
|6||Thundering Sky||12-1||Rajiv Maragh
Uni has won her last two starts, both at the Noble Damsel distance of one mile, rallying from last of seven to win the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose on August 4 at Saratoga Race Course, coming off a nearly four-month layoff after winning the Plenty of Grace on April 14 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The 4-year-old More Than Ready filly has built on a competitive sophomore campaign in which she won the 2017 Grade 2 Sands Point on Belmont's turf while finishing second to Proctor's Ledge in that year's Lake Placid at Saratoga and third in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks.
Uni is one of two entries for trainer Chad Brown, who will be attempting to win his third straight Noble Damsel after saddling Off Limits last year and Mrs McDougal in 2016.
The English-bred Uni, who is 5-3-2 in 12 career starts, including two wins in her first six races in France before arriving in North America, drew post 2 with jockey Joel Rosairo.
Her stablemate, Dream Awhile, has never finished off the board in her six starts since arriving from France as a 3-year-old last summer. The War Front filly, owned and bred by Joseph Allen, finished second by a neck to Elysea's World in the Grade 3 Matchmaker at 1 1/8 miles on July 29 at Monmouth Park, the same track where she overcame a stumble at the start to win the Grade 3 Eatontown on June 30.
Dream Awhile, 4-2-4 in 11 career starts, will break from post 3 in her Belmont debut with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano picking up the mount.
Lael Stables' multiple graded-stakes winner Hawksmoor is coming off an impressive runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa on August 25 at Saratoga, finishing 1 ¾ lengths behind Quidura.
She earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure, marking the fourth time in her last nine starts she reached triple digits.
"I think she came back well from the Ballston Spa, it was a good effort from her in a very tough race. It was a Grade 2, but it could have been a Grade 1," trainer Arnaud Delacour said. "She came back in great form and has two solid breezes, so we couldn't be happier with her."
Hawksmoor is 2-for-2 in her career at Belmont, winning the 2017 Grade 3 Beaugay and that year's Grade 2 New York. The Irish bred has not won in seven subsequent starts, though she has finished second four times, all against stakes competition.
"She's a very consistent filly, there's just a lot of really good horses who are good on turf," Delacour said. "She's won both times at Belmont; one was on a softer, yielding turf in the Beaugay and the other was on firmer turf in the New York. She likes Belmont and can ride on any type of ground, so she's [comfortable] here."
Manny Franco will be in the irons from post 4.
Thundering Sky is the field's most experienced entrant with 24 previous starts, including four runner-up finishes in graded stakes for trainer George Weaver. Among those four was a strong rally from last of 10 to second behind Code Warrior in the Grade 3 Seaway at seven furlongs on August 26 at Woodbine.
She will stretch back out to one mile, where she ran second in the Grade 2 Royal Heroine on April 7 at Santa Anita. Rajiv Maragh will have the return call from post 6.
Rounding out the field is a pair of 4-year-old fillies looking to register their first graded stakes wins, as the Michael Dickinson-trained Lift Up drew post 1. Mythical Mission, conditioned by Graham Motion, will depart post 5.
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