ELMONT, N.Y. - Mrs McDougal started strong and held off all challengers in the seven-horse field for a gate-to-wire victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel for fillies and mares at Belmont Park.
Breaking from post 5 under Irad Ortiz, Jr., the Chad Brown-trained daughter of Medaglia d'Oro set fractions of 24.42, 48.64 and 1:12.27 before holding off stablemate Zindaya in the stretch to win by two lengths. She completed the mile on the Widener turf in 1:34.99 for her second career stakes win and first since the 2015 Grade 2 Lake George.
Mrs McDougal's only previous win as a pacesetter came against allowance company in April 2015 at Aqueduct.
"There wasn't much speed in the race," Ortiz said. "I talked with [trainer Chad Brown] beforehand, and he gave me the green light if the opportunity came up to go to the lead. I think it was the right thing to do. She relaxed well and was there for me. She's a nice filly."
The even-money favorite, Mrs McDougal paid $4.20 on a $2 win wager and improved her career earnings to $466,880. Owned by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren, Jr., Mrs McDougal improved to 5-0-1 in 10 career turf starts.
"Mrs McDougal we talked about possibly going to the lead. There was no clear frontrunner in the race and the last time Irad rode her at Aqueduct in the spring she went wire-to-wire changing tactics and it worked," said Brown, whose Connect went on to upset the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby minutes later.
Zindaya's runner-up finish was her best in a graded stakes start as she fended off Stormy Victoria by 2 ½ lengths.
"Zindaya ran a good race. There wasn't a lot of pace in the race and you have the favorite carving out the fractions so it's a lot to do but she finished real well," Brown said. "Both fillies are real quality fillies. A mile distance seems to fit both of them well and we'll try to keep both at that middle distance now."
My Sweet Girl, Akatea, Bureau de Change and Mah Jong Maddnes completed the order of finish. The Tea Cups was scratched.
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