Wonder Again Faces Full Field in Noble Damsel

(Edited NYRA report)

The $100,000 Noble Damsel Stakes (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares at one mile Saturday drew a field of 12, with one entered for the main track only.

Wonder Again, owned by John and Joan Phillips, will try to get back on track after a disappointing summer at Saratoga. She finished fifth in the Diana and eighth in the Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup.
After showing so much promise last year by winning four of eight starts, including the grade I Garden City Breeders' Cup, it is hard to imagine Wonder Again is still looking for her first win as a 4-year-old.

"Unfortunately, this year hasn't gone as well as we wanted it to," trainer Jimmy Toner said. "Last year, we got on a roll. Everything fell into place and went good. This year, we haven't been able to get into a rhythm or a groove. I still believe she's a good filly and she hasn't done anything to say that she isn't."

Toner, ever so realistic, is not forcing anything and that is why you don't see Wonder Again's name in the entries for a grade I.

"We're not looking at Breeders' Cups or Flower Bowls, or stuff like that," Toner said. "The best chance we have to win a race right now is the Noble Damsel. I want to put her in a spot where I know she'll be competitive. I'd love to be thinking about the Flower Bowl or Breeders' Cup, but let's face it, she hasn't won a race this year."

Toner is hoping for some rain from the approaching storm, but not too much.

"As fast as they've been running on it, I don't think a little water would hurt," he said. "As long as they run on the grass, we're fine because she does handle a soft course."

Stylish defeated Wonder Again in the Ballston Spa for her third consecutive victory. In her prior start, the Eatontown at Monmouth, she got up by a neck over Something Ventured, a rival she will face again Saturday. Heberto Castillo Jr. rode her at Monmouth and will be back aboard for the Noble Damsel. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has also entered Beaugay winner Delta Princess along with Stylish.

Something Ventured, trained by Todd Pletcher, will be joined by her stablemate Dancal. In her first start in this country, Dancal was resolute in taking a $58,000 allowance by a nose over Vespers at Saratoga August 3rd.

Dedication comes into the Noble Damsel fresh, having not run since she was fourth as the 2-1 favorite in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs May 3rd.

"I gave her a little time because I was unhappy with her race at Churchill," trainer Christophe Clement said. "We turned her out for two months, then brought her back. She's doing fine. I think she'll handle soft turf."

1. Dedication, Christophe Clement, Jerry Bailey, 117
2. Pioneer Inn, Tim Ritvo, Shaun Bridgmohan, 110
3. Dancal (IRE), Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano, 114
4. Sky Cover, Kristina Dupps, Mike Luzzi, 109
5. Stylish, Bill Mott, Heberto Castillo Jr., 118
6. Lentil, Roy S. Lerman, Jose Espinoza, 110
7. Something Ventured, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 115
8. Cozzy Corner, Pat Kelly, Luis Chavez, 112
9. Delta Princess, Bill Mott, Richard Migliore, 115
10. Dynamic Lisa, Scott Schwartz, Jorge Chavez, 111
11. Wonder Again, James Toner, Edgar Prado, 117