Lady Lara won the Honey Fox Stakes on March 28.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Lady Lara won the Honey Fox Stakes on March 28.
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Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin

Consistency a Key Factor in Athenia Stakes

Top choices Lady Lara and Coffee Clique looking to regain their form.

Lady Lara and Coffee Clique will be working Oct. 17 to find some semblance of their previously consistent form in the $200,000 Athenia Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park.

Lukewarm morning line favorite Lady Lara, a 4-year-old daughter of Excellent Art—Shanty, by Selkirk, has not seen the winner's circle since March 28 when she won the Honey Fox Stakes (gr. IIT) by a neck over Sandiva at Gulfstream Park. Her two on-the-board finishes this year in five starts is a sharp contrast to 2014 when she finished in the money six times out of nine starts.

Owned by Ben Sangster, the Irish-bred filly's best finish since the Honey Fox came Sept. 19 at Belmont where she finished second in the Noble Damsel Stakes (gr. IIIT). Lady Lara is trained by Bill Mott.

Coffee Clique is struggling with similar challenges. John and Jerry Amerman's homebred daughter of Medaglia d'Oro —Miss Chapin, by Royal Academy, had six wins and two places from 11 starts  from 2 through 4 and now has only one win in six starts this year. She did win the Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Parx Racing at 1 1/16 miles on the grass, same conditions at the Athenia Stakes, but followed that with two flat off-the-board finishes. Brian Lynch trains Coffee Clique.

Lady Lara's and Coffee Clique's experience knocking heads in graded stakes company could help them in the 13-horse Athenia field that is otherwise light in stakes winners.

If consistency is the key in this race, then Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Granny's Kitten and Ramona Bass's A Little Bit Sassy have to be closely watched.

Granny's Kitten (Kitten's Joy —Granny Franny, by Grand Slam) has won twice and finished third twice in her last four starts. The 4-year-old's last start came in the Violet Stakes (gr. IIIT) in which she finished three lengths behind the winner Photo Call, who won the grade I Rodeo Drive Stakes in her next start. Granny's Kitten is trained by Chad Brown, who is leading the Belmont fall meet trainer's standings with 19 wins.

A Little Bit Sassy (More Than Ready —Miss A. Bomb, by Lemon Drop Kid) has one win and been in the money three times in her last four starts. The 4-year-old finished second in her last start in the Glen Hill Farm One Dreamer Stakes at Kentucky Downs, a head behind Rusty Slipper, who is the only horse in the Athenia field to have won a stakes race in her previous start. A Little Bit Sassy is trained by Michael Matz.

Entries: Athenia S. (G3T)

Belmont Park, Saturday, October 17, 2015, Race 9

  • Grade III
  • 1 1/16m
  • Inner turf
  • $200,000
  • 3 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 5:19 PM (local)
11Stellar Path (FR)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoel Rosario120Christophe Clement8/1
22Speed Seeker (FL)Elvis Trujillo120Joan Scott20/1
33A Little Bit Sassy (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoe Bravo118Michael R. Matz12/1
44Wiener Valkyrie (GB)Cornelio H. Velasquez113Ed Walker15/1
55Keri Belle (KY)Manuel Franco116John A. Shirreffs30/1
66Granny Mc's Kitten (KY)Irad Ortiz, Jr.118Chad C. Brown10/1
77Rusty Slipper (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJohn R. Velazquez120H. Graham Motion12/1
88Joy (MD)Christopher P. DeCarlo120H. Graham Motion50/1
99Tango Time (IRE)Javier Castellano116Todd A. Pletcher10/1
1010Coffee Clique (KY)Luis Saez123Brian A. Lynch7/2
1111Baffle Me (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduatePaco Lopez120Mark A. Hennig20/1
1212Faufiler (IRE)Stephane Pasquier120Pascal F. Bary4/1
1313Lady Lara (IRE)Junior Alvarado123William I. Mott3/1