Criminologist (left) charges past Waquoit's Love to take the Noble Damsel at Belmont.

Criminologist (left) charges past Waquoit's Love to take the Noble Damsel at Belmont.

Rick Samuels

Criminologist By a Head in Noble Damsel

The 5-year-old mare got up in the final stride to win Sept. 13 at Belmont.

Criminologist needed the length of the stretch to catch Waquoit’s Love, but the 5-year-old Maria's Mon mare finally ran down the pacesetter, getting up in the final stride to win the $100,000 Noble Damsel Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) by a head Sept. 13 on the Belmont turf.

Ridden patiently by Edgar Prado, Criminologist was content to sit fourth down the backstretch, moved into four-wide striking position at the top of the lane and had Waquoit’s Love and Garrett Gomez in her sights after reaching the sixteenth-pole. Gomez did everything he could to try to hold off the 6-5 favorite, but could not find the wire in time.

The final time for a mile on the ‘soft’ turf was 1:37.91.

Waquoit’s Love, sent off at 13-1 in a field of eight fillies and mares, settled for second, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Sefroua, who was making her American debut.

Owned by Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable, Criminologist won for the sixth time in her last nine starts. The victory was her fourth in grade III company. She entered the race off an eighth-place finish in the July 27 Diana (gr. IT) at Saratoga.

Dennis Federico’s Waquoit’s Love came into the Noble Damsel with an allowance victory to show for five starts this season. But the Timothy Hills trainee proved to be the only speed in the contest, as her rivals were content to let her set easy fractions of :24.44, :49.12 and 1:13.44. Trouble Maker pressed the pace, while Classic Neel was also in the early hunt.

Waquoit’s Love took what looked to be a tenuous 1 1/2 length advantage into the stretch, but the 5-year-old Not For Love mare found more and extended her lead. After Trouble Maker began faltering, Criminologist was the only one with a chance to run down the leader.

“She gave me a nice kick,” Prado said. “She was nice and professional. The other horse was very game. It was a great effort from my horse.” 

Criminologist paid $4.70, $2.90 and $2.50. The exacta (6-7) returned $50.50, while the trifecta (6-7-8) was worth $183.

A Kentucky homebred out of the Seeking the Gold mare Search Party, Criminologist is now 9-4-1 from 20 lifetime starts and has earned $526,263. She is trained by Claude "Shug" McGaughey.

“I knew it was a laboring turf course,” said McGaughey, as overnight rain forced all but the Noble Damsel off the turf. “If she fired, we didn’t know if she would be able to get there or not. We didn’t know that until the final jump at the wire. I was pleased with the race. The turf course is pretty grueling. She relaxed good today, which had been a problem in a couple of her other races. So, hopefully, we’re back on track.”

Trouble Maker was fourth, followed by Nans Joy, Classic Neel, Say You Will and Chestoria. Cozzi Capital was scratched.

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