ELMONT PARK, NY – Realizing that the short field was devoid of much speed, jockey Joel Rosario wisely kept Uni close to the early pace before exploding in the stretch to run off in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel Stakes at Belmont Park.
Breaking from the rail under Rosario as the co-6/5 favorite in the four-horse field, Uni made her usual early move of dropping to the rear and saving ground along the inside once she left the gate. Rosario wisely kept her within 4 lengths of early leader and the other co-favorite, Hawksmoor, through opening fractions of :24.40 and :48.84. Thundering Sky made a bid for the lead heading into the far turn and emerged onto the front stretch with a slight advantage, but Hawksmoor fought back along the inside. Meanwhile, Rosario tipped Uni off the rail as she straightened for home and allowed her to commence a three-wide challenge. Still under a hand ride, the Chad Brown trainee took command with ease and remained hand-ridden for the length of the stretch run before crossing under wraps in a final time of 1:36.11 for the mile-long event over a yielding turf course.
“I just tipped her out and she came running,” Rosario said. “She’s a really nice filly. (Brown) just said to let her break, get her comfortable, follow the speed in the race, and take it from there. She’s a nice-moving filly. I was only the passenger, she did all the work.”
Hawksmoor refused to yield, continuing to battle inside of Thundering Sky before beating that foe to the wire by a neck. Dream Awhile was never a threat and completed the order of finish. Lift Up and Mythical Mission were scratched.
Uni’s win was her third straight, following come-from-behind scores in the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose Stakes and the $100,000 Plenty of Grace Stakes. The British-bred 4-year-old daughter of More Than Ready now carries a record of 13-6-3-2 with earnings of $712,880 for owners Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Partners, Robert V. LaPenta, and Bethlehem Stables.
“This was a tough kind of race, only four in the field, and it looked like a lone speed (Hawksmoor), but she’s a classy little filly and got it done,” said Whit Beckman, assistant to Brown. “We were kind of figuring Hawksmoor would go out and we just hoped her running style would be enough because we weren’t going to look to change that, and it was enough to get it done.”
Uni returned $4.50 to win and $2.20 to place, while Hawksmoor paid $2.50 to place. There was no show betting.