Trainer Bobby Frankel said beforehand that he had concerns about Ginger Punch's ability to handle the 1 1/8-mile journey, but with Rafael Bejarano in the irons, the 4-year-old homebred filly by Awesome Again --Nappelon (Bold Revenue) was in full control after surging past the fading Teammate. Ginger Punch reached the wire in 1:49 while winning by an official margin of six lengths. Ginger Punch earns a spot in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Monmouth Park Oct. 27 under Saturday's "Win and You're In" format at Saratoga.
"The Breeders’ Cup is a long way away," Frankel said. "You have to keep them sound. Strawberries today, jam tomorrow. Hopefully, I can keep her the way she is now, and I’m sure she’ll run in the Breeders’ Cup. Probably the Ruffian (is next) and then the Breeders’ Cup.”
Miss Shop finished the best of the tiring rivals to get second under Javier Castellano, with Teammate, who set sensible fractions of :24 2/5, :48 4/5 and 1:12 4/5 before struggling home, holding on for third with Cornelio Velasquez aboard. She was 2 1/4 lengths behind Miss Shop.
Away in good order, Ginger Punch prompted the pace from second while running easily two paths off the rail, kicking home impressively.
“Mr. Frankel decided he wanted her in the race early," Bejarano said. "She was able to track Teammate. I had so much horse at the top of the stretch. I really asked her to run because I didn’t want to wait for somebody else to come along. I think she is the best horse in the division.”
Ginger Punch was coming off a smart five-length score in the seven-furlong First Flight (gr. II) at Belmont Park July 8. Prior to that, she came up a neck short of Take D'Tour in the 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at one turn June 16. Ginger Punch has five wins and five seconds in 11 lifetime starts with earnings of $441,279. She earned $150,000 Saturday.
“I had a little bit (of a concern about the distance)," Frankel said. "I thought she’d be all right because she’s such an easy filly to ride. She relaxes behind any kind of pace. Usually, if she goes easy the first part, she kicks in pretty hard the last part.
"We had to stop on her for what they call `chondroma’ that were little pimples on her throat, and we had to laser them off or eventually they’d block her airway."
Ginger Punch paid $4.50, $3, and $2.30. Miss Shop returned $5.70 and $4.10. Teammate was $3.70 to show.
Plaid finished fourth followed by Soul Search and Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) winner Ermine.