Celestine winning the Honey Fox Stakes

Celestine winning the Honey Fox Stakes

Coglianese Photos/Lauren King

Celestine Heads Talented Bunch in Noble Damsel

Daughter of Scat Daddy is one of two grade 1 winners in the five-horse field.

Five older fillies and mares were signed up for the $200,000 Noble Damsel Stakes (G3T) going a mile on the Widener Turf course at Belmont Park Sept. 23.

Set to make her first start since a fifth-place finish in the June 10 Longines Just a Game (G1T)—where she was the defending race winner —Moyglare Stud Farm's Celestine will be ready to kick off her fall campaign for trainer Christophe Clement. A 5-year-old Scat Daddy mare, Celestine picked up back-to-back victories in her first two starts of the year at Gulfstream Park, capturing the Honey Fox Stakes (G2T) and Sand Springs Stakes.

Celestine will be giving between five and seven pounds to her foes and drew the rail.

"She's coming into the race in very good condition," said Christophe Louriel, assistant to Clement. "She had the whole summer off since running in the Just a Game and has been training well. We know she's a good filly and she's ready to go."

Sassy Little Lila was beaten three-quarters of a length by Antonoe in the Just a Game, finishing second after setting all the tempo. The daughter of Artie Schiller faced males in her most recent test, fading to fifth in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1T), a race won by the red-hot World Approval.

"The yielding course due to the unexpected downpour just before the race probably didn't do us any favors, but she was in pretty deep facing the boys," Brad Cox, trainer of Sassy Little Lila, said of her effort in the Fourstardave. "She's put in three works since that race, most recently last Sunday, and I'm expecting her to run a big race on Saturday."

The early pace duel between Sheep Pond Partners and Mike Ryan’s Sassy Little Lila and Celestine will likely determine the outcome of the Noble Damsel.

Time and Motion won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes Presented by Lane's End (G1T) last October at Keeneland but is winless in four tries since, including rolling a pair of thirds in her last two outs, the Beaugay Stakes (G3T) at Belmont Park and the Modesty Handicap (G3T) at Arlington International Racecourse. Phillips Racing Partnership’s Time and Motion could find herself in a nice stalking spot should the top two knock each other off on the front end.

Off Limits is moving up in class off an allowance optional claiming score for owner Martin Schwartz. The Irish bred finished second two back in the Perfect Sting Stakes at Belmont in July, her only stateside stakes try.

Malibu Stacy has placed second in her two tries in graded company, but both of those efforts came on the dirt. She has tried turf just twice in her career, including a gate-to-wire allowance optional claiming score last out at Saratoga.

Entries: Noble Damsel S. (G3T)

Belmont Park, Saturday, September 23, 2017, Race 3

  • Grade IIIT
  • 1m
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 3 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 2:32 PM (local)
PPHorseJockeyWgtTrainerM/L
11Celestine (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateIrad Ortiz, Jr.123Christophe Clement4/1
22Sassy Little Lila (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJulien R. Leparoux116Brad H. Cox5/2
33Malibu Stacy (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRajiv Maragh116George Weaver15/1
44Time and Motion (KY)Jose Lezcano118James J. Toner5/2
55Off Limits (IRE)Joel Rosario116Chad C. Brown2/1