Sea Queen wins the Wonder Again Stakes.
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Sea Queen wins the Wonder Again Stakes.
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Coglianese Photos

Sea Queen Surprises for Wonder Again Win

She secures an invitation to Belmont Oaks with her half-length score on turf May 25.

Ignored by bettors at 18-1, Sea Queen ran down Minorette in the final 70 yards to win the $200,000 Wonder Again Stakes  (VIDEO) for 3-year-old fillies on the Belmont Park inner turf course May 25.

It was the stakes debut for Sea Queen, who was coming off a first-level allowance tally April 23 at Keeneland. Trained by Christophe Clement for owner Stonetower Stable, the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid  was ridden to a half-length victory by Irad Ortiz Jr. over a turf course rated good.

The top two finishers in the nine-furlong Wonder Again received automatic invitations to the $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational (gr. IT) July 5. The newly christened Belmont Oaks is a 1 1/4-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

"I'm a bit surprised she won at 18-1, but it doesn't matter, she can't read the board," Clement said. "Great ride from Irad, and we'll go for the Belmont Oaks."

Listed at 5-1 on the morning line, Sea Queen was a big overlay. Bettors could only see Daring Dancer, undefeated in three starts including a 2 1/2-length win in Keeneland's Appalachian Stakes (gr. IIIT) April 17. The 9-10 favorite in the field of six, Daring Dancer finished a flat fifth.

Sea Queen raced second toward the inside while a couple of lengths off pacesetter Party Now, who posted fractions of :23.91, :48.93, and 1:13.33. Ortiz angled her sharply to the three path near the three-sixteenth pole as Minorette was the first to challenge. Minorette took the lead approaching mid-stretch with Sea Queen about a length farther back. The charging Sea Queen then hit the front as they closed in the wire and quickly edged away in a final time of 1:49.89.

"I'm very happy with her performance," Ortiz said. "A good filly, and she ran great today. She tries very hard. She gave me everything she had today."

Minorette, ridden by Joel Rosario, was 2 3/4 lengths clear in second, with Recepta and Junior Alvarado edging Party Now for third. Daring Dancer and Lawn Party trailed.

The fifth foal produced by the winning Belong to Me mare Dowry, Sea Queen was bred in Kentucky by the Neuman Group. She is a half sister to 2011 American Oaks (gr. IT) winner Nereid, who sold for $1.3 million at the 2013 Keeneland January all-ages sale.

Sea Queen broke her maiden at first asking on the inner course at Saratoga Race Course last July. The dark bay or brown filly has now won three of five lifetime starts with earnings of $216,495.

Carrying 117 pounds, Sea Queen paid $39.60, $11, and $6.80. Minorette, in her second United States start for trainer Chad Brown after transferring from Ireland, returned $7.10 and $4.90 while part of a $260 exacta. Recepta paid $5.50.

"It was unfortunate to lose there right on the wire, but she ran great," Brown said of Minorette, adding that he would consider the Belmont Oaks for her next start.

"The mile and a quarter will suit her as well," Brown said. "If she comes out of the race in good shape, I'll be pointing her toward the Belmont Oaks."

Courtesan scratched.