From the New York Racing Association
Godolphin Stable’s Cocoa Beach has raced in her native Chile and in the Middle East, but apparently, she has found a home in New York. Fresh off a dominant win at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 29, the 4-year-old Doneraile Court filly collared champion Ginger Punch Sept. 27 and went on to a half-length victory in the $600,000 Beldame Stakes (gr. I) for fillies and mares at nine furlongs at Belmont Park.
Racing was canceled at Belmont Park Sept. 26, and the main track was rated as “muddy/sealed” when competition began Sept. 27. By post time for the Beldame at 3:40 p.m. (EDT), the track was sloppy, and the scratch of Unbridled Belle left the Beldame with a field of four. Ginger Punch, looking for her fifth straight victory and fourth straight grade I win, was the 1-2 favorite.
Ginger Punch broke alertly under jockey Rafael Bejarano, who put her well off the rail and let her set fractions of :24.61, :48.18, and 1:12.76. Lemon Drop Mom pressed early, but Ginger Punch shook her off and began to pull away.
Cocoa Beach, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, lingered at the back of the field, but gradually moved to within three lengths of the leader as they turned for home. When Lemon Drop Mom backed off, Cocoa Beach came with an outside rally as Ginger Punch ran closer to the rail. They fought to the wire, and Cocoa Beach prevailed in 1:49.50. She returned $7.10 to win.
“She’s grown up a lot since she ran earlier in the year in Dubai,” said winning trainer Saeed bin Suroor. “She looked stronger than ever and she has learned a lot from her last race at Saratoga. She was really happy. The target now is the Breeders’ Cup (Ladies Classic, gr. I, Oct. 24). I had a good feeling coming into the race (that we could beat Ginger Punch). The last race really set her (Cocoa Beach) up, and she’s really grown.”
According to Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, Ginger Punch again proved her mettle, but could not overcome the inside post and track condition.
“It was the one hole; she had no choice but to do what she did,” Frankel said. “I don’t think that is her favorite way of running. I don’t think the inside was the best part. I would have loved to have been on the outside. That was all I was worried about.”
Lemon Drop Mom was 13 ½ lengths back, and Leah’s Secret finished last.