Odds-on choice Unbridled Humor opened up a big lead in the stretch of the $100,000 Noble Damsel Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) and held on comfortably to register her fifth win in six lifetime starts Sept. 18 on the Belmont Park turf.
With Ramon Dominguez aboard, Live Oak Plantation's homebred 4-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of Irish-bred Thai Haku. The final time for the one-mile test of older fillies and mares on the Widener Turf Course was 1:34.09 over firm ground.
Unbridled Humor pressed early as 32-1 Twilight Memory carved an opening quarter-mile of :23.41 before the winning gray/roan filly took over midway on the backstretch. She completed a half-mile in :46.51 and six furlongs in 1:10.30, opening a four-length lead on the turn. Unbridled Humor was unchallenged in the stretch run, still leading by four lengths at the furlong pole, as Dominguez gave her an easy hand ride the rest of the way.
The Noble Damsel was the first graded stakes win for Unbridled Humor, who was coming off a seventh-place finish after setting the pace as the favorite in the Diana Stakes (gr. IT) July 30 at Saratoga.
Unbridled Humor opened her career with four wins, including a triumph in the Memories of Silver overnight stakes last November at Aqueduct, before she suffered her only defeat.
In the Diana, Unbridled Humor led early as she tugged at her rider before she faded in the stretch. This time, she rated well enough to hold off the stretch runners.
“Ideally, [trainer] Graham [Motion] would have liked to seen her covered up, but with the lack of speed in the race that was going to be difficult,” said Dominguez, who was aboard for the first time in Unbridled Humor's career. “I just took a long hold. She was eager, but within reason. Turning for home, she switched leads on her own and she picked it up pretty nicely.”
Unbridled Humor is out of the Unbridled mare Devotion Unbridled.
The victory was gratifying for winning trainer Graham Motion’s team, which has coped with the filly’s personality quirks.
“She’s quite difficult,” said Heather Craig, assistant to Motion. “We’ve had some issues with her as far as getting to the gate, getting to the track. She was so well behaved today, and Ramon did an excellent job. We were a little concerned that she was that close to the lead and that they went that quick, but it seems as long as you keep her happy, regardless of how slow or quick she goes, she runs well. She’s an amazing filly. We’re happy to train at Fair Hill all the time. It seems to really benefit her.”
Unbridled Humor has earned $177,520, including the $60,000 winner’s share of the Noble Damsel purse. She returned $3.60, $2.90, $3.10. Thai Haku, ridden by Jose Lezcano, paid $4.50 and $5.50. Aquitaine was third with Joe Bravo aboard, paying $9.90 to show.
Aviate, off at 19-10, finished fourth, contributing to the odd show prices. Sea Road, Spring Party, and Twilight Memory followed.
Cornelio Velasquez rode four winners on the card to tie Javier Castellano at the top of the jockey standings with eight wins each through the first seven days of the fall meet.