by Karen M. Johnson
A wide-open field was drawn for the $100,000-added Noble Damsel (g. IIIT) at Belmont Park Sept. 15.
Not much separates the 10 fillies and mares entered in the one-mile race over the Widener Turf. Sugar Shake is entered to run only if the race is switched to the main track.
Previously based in Florida, Bayou’s Lassie will make her first start for trainer Christophe Clement, who won the race in 1999 with Khumba Mela and again in 2005 with Bright Abundance.
Bayou’s Lassie, owned by Jacks or Better Farm Inc., hasn’t raced since finishing fourth in the Sunshine Million Filly and Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park Jan. 27. She has won three Florida stakes, including the Frances A. Genter (gr. IIIT) at Calder last December. Bayou’s Lassie has been the picture of consistency, having won six of nine starts.
“She came to me over the summer and she has trained well,” Clement said. “It looks like a really open race.”
Bayou’s Lassie, a 4-year-old daughter of Outflanker, drew post four and will be ridden by Garret Gomez.
Fantastic Shirl, a half-sister to graded stakes winner Shakespeare, is coming off a win in the restricted De La Rose Stakes at Saratoga Aug. 1. She encountered a ton of traffic trouble in the De La Rose but managed to close from the back of the pack to get up in time for a length win over Amansara, who is among her rivals in the Noble Damsel.
The De La Rose was run at a mile, a distance at which Fantastic Shirl has won three times of five starts.
“She likes the mile because she gets a better pace up front,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, Fantastic Shirl’s trainer.
Kent Desormeaux rides Fantastic Shirl from post eight.
Pommes Frites, second in this race last year, figures to be part of the early pace scenario in a race that is not top-heavy on speed. Pommes Frites has run some good races over courses with moisture in them, and showers are forecast the morning of the Noble Damsel.
Astronomia was impressive in winning her stateside debut at Saratoga at five-and-a-half furlongs and has trained well for the Noble Damsel. The Aug. 15 win marked her first race in a year for Godolphin Stable. In her last breeze for the Noble Damsel, Astronomia posted a bullet work on the turf, covering five furlongs in 1:02 at Belmont Sept. 9.
Sky High Flyer deserves some consideration. In her last start Aug. 9 at Saratoga, she was a narrowly beaten second in an allowance race to Criminologist, who returned to win a restricted stakes at Saratoga in her next start.
Silver Charades, a graded winner, makes her first start for trainer John Kimmel. During the summer, Silver Charades won the All Along Breeders’ Cup (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs June 16. She looks to rebound off her seventh-place finish in the Matchmaker (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth Park Aug. 5.