four straight starts in Grade 1 company, Godolphin Racing's Better
Lucky returns from a three-month layoff as the horse to beat in
Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel on the Widener turf at Belmont
4-year-old bay daughter of Ghostzapper, Better Lucky has not raced
since finishing second, beaten a half-length by Stephanie's Kitten, in
the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game on June 8, run over the same course and
at the same one-mile distance as the Noble Damsel.
kind of limited in her distance. She's really effective going a mile,"
trainer Tom Albertrani said. "After a mile and a sixteenth, she kind of
gets there, and then after that it's hard to place her in races.
just waited for the right opportunity to come along, the right
distance, and this looks like a good spot to come back with her," he
said. "We'll see what happens. Everything's been really good with her.
She's been training great coming up to this weekend."
Lucky registered a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 100 in the
Longines Just a Game, just her second start of the year. She ended her
sophomore season beating older horses in the Grade 1, one-mile Matriarch
at Betfair Hollywood Park last November.
kind of a filly that seems to peak at different times of the year, and
she kind of tells me when she's not at her best," said Albertrani.
"There are times where she is, and you've just got to time it right.
Right now, we feel like she's been right on her game, so the timing is
on our side going into this weekend with her."
Lucky will carry jockey Javier Castellano and high weight of 123 pounds
from post three in the Noble Damsel, where she is the 9-5 program
favorite in the field of six.
ran a really good effort in the Just a Game and just got caught late,"
said Albertrani. "Off of that race, she should be the one to beat in
here, I hope.
doing well, and we're getting all the right signs," he added. "She
always tries and runs her race. She's a pretty honest filly."
Hamilton's Hungry Island goes after her first graded stakes win in more
than a year in the Noble Damsel. Trained by Hall of Famer Shug
McGaughey, the 5-year-old More Than Ready mare was most recently fourth
of eight in the Grade 2 Ketel One Ballston Spa at Saratoga Race Course
on August 24.
doing fine," said McGaughey. "I thought she ran good at Saratoga; she
just ran into a very speed-favoring track. We passed half of them. She
came out of her race good, so we'll see what happens on Saturday."
in the Longines Just a Game, Hungry Island's lone victory in four tries
this year came in a one-mile allowance over the turf at Keeneland on
April 7. In her subsequent start, she came within a neck of defending
her 2012 win in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs in May.
ran a good race at Churchill and just got beat by Stephanie's Kitten,
and her race [in the Longines Just a Game] was good," said McGaughey. "I
just made a little mistake on the instructions. It had rained and I
thought the outside would be the best, where the winner got through on
the inside and won. And her race at Saratoga was just a matter of the
Hungry Island has been on the board in 17 of 20 career starts,
including six wins, and her $706,704 in purse earnings is tops in the
field. Second choice on the morning line at 2-1, she will break from
post six under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
a very consistent filly," said McGaughey. "All of her races have been
good. When she was a 2-year-old she ran what was maybe a subpar race
over at Aqueduct in a maiden race, but she's always been a horse we've
Cox Jr.'s Naples Bay returns to defend her title in the Noble Damsel,
having won last year's race by 1 ½ lengths. Trained by Christophe
Clement, the Giant's Causeway mare is winless in three starts this year,
most recently second after a slow start in the Grade 3 Matchmaker at
Monmouth Park on July 28.
Garrett Gomez will ride Naples Bay, 6-1, from post 1.
out the field for the Noble Damsel are Assateague, winner of the De La
Rose at Saratoga for trainer Michael Matz last time out; Laugh Out Loud,
third in the De La Rose in her second North American start and first
for trainer Chad Brown; and Peace Preserver, whose last victory came
last October in the one-mile Pebbles at Belmont.