From NYRA Press Office
Following two straight runner-up finishes in allowances races, trainer Billy Turner will start Althea Richards' Finery in a stakes for the first time, Saturday's grade III, $150,000 Noble Damsel for fillies and mares at one mile on the turf at Belmont.
On July 23, Finery, by Lear Fan
, was beaten two lengths by Spotlight, who returned to take the Lake Placid at Saratoga and run second in the grade III Pucker Up at Arlington. More recently Aug. 27th Finery missed by a neck to multiple stakes winner Madeira Mist.
Unraced at two, Finery ran four times at three and all of those races were on the dirt. After a long break from Oct. 17 to July 4, she returned to the races for her 4-year-old season and was an OK fourth in her grass debut.
"She's a great big filly and I didn't want to run her too long until I had her good and fit," Turner said when asked why he did not try Finery on the grass last year. "I knew she would like it."
Finery may have won her first race on turf in her last start if Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey had not dropped the whip at the top of the stretch. The filly was only beaten a head by Madeira Mist after a stretch-long duel.
With Bailey sidelined because of a broken wrist, Aaron Gryder will get the call for the Noble Damsel. Finery is the only member of the field that has not won a stakes.
The role of favorite for the Noble Damsel will probably be played by Bonnie and Sy Baskin's Ocean Drive, winner of the grade III Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup by 1 1/4 lengths over Personal Legend at Saratoga in her last start. Ocean Drive has not been worse than third in eight starts this year. She will be the 120-pound highweight.
"She's very solid and a mile suits her well," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "She's been a great mare for us."
Away from the races since Belmont Stakes day, Ghislaine Head's Dedication will make her return in the Noble Damsel. She won the grade III Beaugay earlier this year. After running second against males in the seven-furlong Jaipur May 30, trainer Christophe Clement wheeled the 5-year-old mare back in six days for a fifth-place run in the Just A Game Breeders' Cup.
The field, in post order, with jockeys and weights:
Personal Legend, Jorge Chavez, 115
Coney Kitty, Jose Santos, 115
Dedication, Edgar Prado, 117
Hour of Justice, Todd Kabel, 116
Yell, Cornelio Velasquez, 112
Changing, Javier Castellano, 113
High Court, Richard Migliore, 114
Finery, Aaron Gryder, 112
Ocean Drive, John Velazquez, 120