Virginia Kraft Payson’s multiple graded stakes winner Rutherienne has not been off the board her last 10 starts, but has just one win to show for her efforts. On Sept. 19 at Belmont Park, the 5-year-old mare will try to return to the winner’s circle when she takes on six fillies and mares in the $100,00 Noble Damsel Handicap (gr. IIIT).
If anyone is to challenge Rutherienne in the one-mile turf contest it could be Jayeff B Stables’ Social Queen, winner of the Gallorette Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Pimlico in May. The Noble Damsel, which is the first of three graded stakes on a Belmont program that also includes the Futurity (gr. II) and Matron (gr. II) will go as race 4. Post time is slated for 2:35 p.m. EDT.
Rutherienne has won two of three starts over the Belmont turf course, those victories coming during an incredible stretch in which the daughter of Pulpit scored five consecutive stakes wins and seven out of eight from May 2007 to April 2008. One of the wins was in the grade I Del Mar Oaks. Since that time, Rutherienne hasn’t exactly been off form, but she has finished third seven times, runner-up twice, and won just once.
That win came three starts ago in the May 30 Nassau Stakes (Can-IIT) at Woodbine. Last out in the Aug. 29 Ballston Spa (gr. IIT), the dark bay or brown mare led through most of the stretch but was collared in the final strides to lose by a head.
Christophe Clement trains Rutherienne, who was bred in Kentucky by Payson Stud and is out of the Rahy mare Ruthian. Alan Garcia will keep the mount and they will break from post 7.
“She ran very well in the Ballston Spa and I hope I’m not running her back too quickly,” said Clement of the 1-2 morning-line favorite. “But she’s training well and she looks well so those are good signs.”
Sharing the 123-pound top weight with Rutherienne will be Social Queen, a 5-year-old daughter of Dynaformer. Social Queen is 0-for-3 at Belmont, but finished a solid third in her last start there, the May 2 Beaugay Stakes (gr. IIIT). The Gallorette was the bay mare’s lone win in five starts this season. Kent Desormeaux will ride for Alan Goldberg.
Other contenders are Quiet Meadow, who comes out of an eighth-place finish in the Aug. 1 Diana (gr. IT) at Saratoga; Meadow Saffron, third in the Nassau; American Border, a former claimer that went on to win the grade III Violet Stakes at Meadowlands last season; Grande Annee, a former English-based filly making her second start in the U.S.; and Stealin' Kisses, who has won just twice in 24 starts.
$100,000 Noble Damsel (gr. IIIT, Race 4, 2:35 p.m.), Fillies and Mares 3YO and Up, One Mile (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Meadow Saffron (KY), R A Dominguez, 118, F J Seitz
2. Stealin' Kisses (KY), C H Velasquez, 116, D W Lukas
3. Grande Annee (KY), J Lezcano, 116, M R Matz
4. American Border (KY), R Maragh, 118, J Servis
5. Quiet Meadow (FL), J Castellano, 118, C C Brown
6. Social Queen (KY), K J Desormeaux, 123, A E Goldberg
7. Rutherienne (KY), A Garcia, 123, C Clement