Noble Stella did her best to fend off Honey Ryder in deep stretch of the Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. IIT) May 27 at Belmont, but in the end fell a length short of the win. Still, it's hard to argue with the mare's effort considering she had the lead for nearly 10 furlongs and was beaten by a multiple stakes-winning millionaire. As was the case in the Sheepshead Bay, Noble Stella should find herself right on the pace in the New York.
"When you've got the kind of speed she does and you're in these long turf races you're probably going to find yourself on the lead," Woodbine-based trainer Roger Attfield said. "It hasn't been my intention to put her on the lead lately, but she's made it and she's been happy there. She'll run well while she's covered up, too."
Bred in Germany, Noble Stella banked more $250,000 than in nine starts last season and won a pair of Canadian stakes. As a 5-year-old in 2006, she's taken her game up a notch or two. Prior to the Sheepshead Bay, Noble Stella won Keeneland's grade III Bewitch Stakes as the 3-5 favorite.
Noble Stella, who owns a prior 10-furlong victory, goes out with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, a two-time winner of the New York.
The British-bred Angara was a neck behind Noble Stella in the Sheepshead Bay, finishing third for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Making her third start of the year Saturday, Angara might be the mare to beat for Mott, who won the New York in 2005 with Wend.
Angara drew the rail with Belmont Stakes winning jockey Fernando Jara. By Alzao, Angara notched the finest victory of her career last August in Arlington Park's Beverly D (gr. IT). She has two wins and a second from seven starts to her credit at 10 furlongs. Jockey Edgar Prado has ridden Angara in her first two starts of 2006, but was listed to ride the Bobby Frankel-trained Argentina in the New York. Argentina, an Irish-bred by Sadler's Wells, is seeking her first victory in the United States. She owns three stateside starts up to this point, all narrow losses at odds of 6-5 or less. Argentina last ran three weeks ago at Hollywood Park, finishing third in the grade I Gamely Breeders' Cup.While racing overseas earlier in her career, Argentina placed in a pair of group I races in France. She breaks from post eight in the New York.
Charmsil steps into the New York off a strong second-level allowance score at Belmont May 26. By Silver Charm, Charmsil is likely to find herself near the lead in the early stages of the New York.
"She'll be close, but it doesn't matter if she's on the lead or stalking," trainer John Terranova said. "We were hoping to get her covered up in her last race, but the pace never developed and she inherited the lead. She's so consistent and she's always run to the competition. I think she deserves a chance to step up."
Charmsil put in a big effort in her lone stakes try to date, a narrow third-place finish in Santa Anita's Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf in January. She was beaten by less than two lengths for all the money by Moscow Burning, a West Coast win machine.
Dynamite Lass isn't as flashy as Angara or Argentina, but did defeat Noble Stella and eight others in Gulfstream's grade III Very One March 4. Dynamite Lass, a filly by Dynaformer, has not raced since she finished fourth to Honey Ryder in the track's Orchid Handicap (gr. IIIT) April.
Asi Siempre is a grade III winner who was fourth in the Sheepshead Bay. She turned in her best effort April 15 at Keeneland when she split Wend and Mirabilis in the Jenny Wiley (gr. IIT) exacta. $250,000 New York Breeders' Cup Handicap, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/4 miles PP. Horse, Weight, Trainer, Jockey
1. Angara, 118, Bill Mott, Fernando Jara
2. Charmsil, 112, John Terranova, Channing Hill
3. Smart N Classy, 114, John Tammaro, Jose Velez Jr.
4. Omeya, 115, Jonathan Sheppard, Jose Santos
5. Dynamite Lass, 115, Kiaran McLaughlin, Eibar Coa
6. Asi Siempre, 115, Patrick Biancone, Kent Desormeaux
7. Noble Stella, 116, Roger Attfield, Mike Smith
8. Argentina, 118, Bobby Frankel, Edgar Prado