Ginger Punch easily won the June 14 Ogden Phipps (gr. I) at Belmont. <br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Ginger Punch easily won the June 14 Ogden Phipps (gr. I) at Belmont.
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Go For Wand: Ginger Punch Heavy Favorite

Last year, Stronach Stables’ Ginger Punch romped to a six-length victory in the Go For Wand (gr. I) en route to her Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) win and being named champion older female. The scary part for her competition is that trainer Bobby Frankel says the daughter of Awesome Again  is vastly improved as a 5-year-old.

“Obviously, she’s much better than last year,” Frankel said. “Physically, she looks 100 times better; she has matured a lot. Last year, I didn’t know how good she was.”

If Frankel is right, it does not bode well for the competition July 26 in the $250,000 Go For Wand at Saratoga. Ginger Punch is the lone grade I winner in the field of eight (which also includes Stronach’s coupled entry Spring Waltz). As race nine on the program, the 1 1/8-mile Go For Wand will go to post at 5:15 p.m. EDT and be televised on ABC. The winner will receive an automatic berth in the re-named Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic Oct. 24 at Santa Anita.

Bred in Florida by Stronach’s Adena Springs and out of the Bold Revenue mare Nappelon, Ginger Punch has been equally terrific in 2008. She has won three of four starts, including the Louisville Stakes (gr. II) and most recently, romped to a 7 3/4-length score in the June 14 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont – her fourth graded I win. The only setback of her season came April 5 in the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn when she ran third to Zenyetta.

Ginger Punch, who will get regular rider Rafael Bejarano, will carry 124 pounds in the Go For Wand, seven-11 more than her rivals.

“She deserves carrying that weight,” Frankel said. “She’s won with 123 pounds. There isn’t another grade I winner in this race. Right now, I am trying to get her as good as I can. Hopefully, she doesn’t get beat from now on.”

If Ginger Punch is to be challenged it could come from Winning Move Stable’s Runway Rosie, who enters off a convincing 4 3/4-length score in the Proud Delta Stakes at Belmont. A four-time stakes winner, the 4-year-old daughter of Include  will face the biggest task of her career. She has won four of eight starts this year, but was eighth in the May 17 Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico.

 “It would be a dream to win a race like this,” trainer Gary Contessa said. “If she finishes second or third in a grade I race, that will only enhance her value down the road.”

Also to consider is Millennium Farms’ Copper State, who has not been out of the money in her last six starts, two of which were allowance wins. Most recently, the Jump Start  filly was runner-up to Unbridled Belle in the June 14 Obeah Stakes (gr. III) at Delaware Park – her graded stakes debut. The Illinois-bred is trained by Steve Asmussen.

“She’s a very nice filly,” Asmussen said. “We were pleased with her effort at Delaware. Visually, her race was impressive. She was off the bridle the whole way. She made a long run and stayed on nicely. This is an ambitious spot, but it is also a great opportunity.”

$250,000 Go For Wand (gr. I, Race 9, 5:15 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Ginger Punch (FL), 124, Rafael Bejarano
2. Inside Passage (KY), 113, Eibar Coa
3. Indescribable (KY), 115, Kent J. Desormeaux
4. Moon Catcher (MD), 115, Edgar S. Prado
5. Copper State (IL), 114, Shaun Bridgmohan
6. Runway Rosie (KY), 114, Rajiv Maragh
7. Over Under (KY), 113, Robby Albarado
8. Spring Waltz (KY), 117, Javier Castellano