Ball Dancing has the Edge on Xcellence in Sands Point
September 11, 2014 08:38pm
Ball Dancing Sands Point 615 X 400
Photo: NYRA

A pair of fillies who were making their North American debuts swept the graded stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park, with Ball Dancing employing a strong turn of foot to win the Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point for 3-year-old fillies and Annecdote using similar tactics to take the Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel for fillies and mares.

The Sands Point and Noble Damsel were both contested on turf labeled "firm."

Ball Dancing, a listed stakes winner in France who was making her first start for trainer Chad Brown, bided her time in eighth in the field of nine under Joe Bravo as pace-setting favorite Sea Queen ran the opening quarter-mile in 25.46 seconds and a half in 50.50. She began to pick off rivals on the far turn and entered the stretch full of run, despite being passed by stablemate Xcellence.

The Brown duo raced in tandem in the stretch before Ball Dancing wrested command from Xcellence 70 yards from the finish en route to a half-length victory. Xcellence finished 1 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Sea Queen.

"How impressive was it at the eighth pole when she got passed?" said Bravo. "How much heart did she show to come back and win it?"

Ball Dancing completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.18 seconds and returned $12.60 for a $2 win wager.

Earlier this year, Ball Dancing won the Prix de la Seine at Longchamp before finishing second in the Group 3 Prix de Royaumont Equidia Live and missing by just 1 3/4 lengths when she dead-heated for fifth in the Group 1 Prix de Diane at Chantilly.

Cherie DeVaux, assistant to Brown, was impressed with how Ball Dancing handled her first stateside start.

"She settled nicely and made one run," said DeVaux. "When Joe asked her to run, she quickened. She handled everything perfectly in the race and in the gate."

Bravo credited Brown for Ball Dancing's professionalism.

"With European horses making their first start here, it's mostly a matter of making sure they're comfortable with their surroundings," said Bravo. "Chad does some much homework with these horses, it made my job easy."

Ball Dancing is owned by W. S. Farish and F. Steve Mooney, who purchased the daughter of Exchange Rate following the Prix de Diane. She is 3-1-0 in six starts, with $300,000 winner's share of the Sands Point purse enhancing her bankroll to $396,282.

Walk Close, A Little Bit Sassy, Daring Dancer, Duff One, Miss Besilu, and Queenofzeenile completed the order of finish. Aqua Regia, who was entered for the main track only, was scratched.

In the Noble Damsel, Annecdote idled along in ninth, about eight lengths behind Byrama, who led through an opening quarter-mile in 23.65 seconds and a half-mile in 47.46 as a light rain fell on the turf course. Ahead of just one horse straightening for home, Annecdote kicked into high gear inside the eighth pole and swept widest of all to hit the wire in 1:35.09 for the mile, 2 3/4 lengths in front of the pacesetter.

"The track is very soft right now, so I just dropped the hands and tried to cover up," said winning rider Irad Oritz, Jr. "When I asked her, I had a lot of horse. I didn't want to be too close today because I saw there was a lot of speed in the race, and [trainer Christophe Clement] had [Love Train], who has speed, too. That was my plan: try to make one run in the last couple of furlongs."

A Group 3 winner in England, Annecdote had been training forwardly since arriving in Clement's barn over the summer, but was sent off as the 4-1 third choice in favor of Tokyo Time, who had won two straight heading into the Noble Damsel, and Love Train, who had won both her starts since being transferred to Clement in the spring.

"[Annecdote's win] was really no surprise because she had been training so well in the mornings," said Clement of the filly, who returned $10.20 for a $2 win bet. "She always showed a great turn of foot."

Owned by George Bolton and Peter Leidel, Annecdote is now 6-1-1 from 14 career starts. The 4-year-old Lucky Story filly, winner of the Group 3 Oak Tree Stakes last August at Goodwood and the Sandringham Handicap at Ascot last June, has now earned $280,499.

Checking in third was Julie's Love, who was followed in turn by Baffle Me, Tokyo Time, Devilish Love, Love Train, Medea, and Alaura Michele.

Source: NYRA Communications 


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