Belmont at Big A: Malavath seeks 1st U.S. win in Noble Damsel

Belmont at Big A: Malavath seeks 1st U.S. win in Noble Damsel
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Moyglare Stud Farm’s dual group-stakes winner Malavath will look to secure her first stateside score Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Noble Damsel, a one-mile, inner-turf test for fillies and mares in the Belmont at Aqueduct meet.

Trained by Christophe Clément, the 4-year-old Ireland-bred daughter of Mehmas captured the 2021 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte (G2) at Chantilly and the Prix Impudence (G3) last April at Deauville, both in France for her former conditioner Francis-Henri Graffard.

Click here for Belmont at the Big A entries and results.

Malavath completed her sophomore season with a trio of top-flight tries, finishing a close fourth in the Prix Rothschild (G1) last August at Deauville and posting a runner-up effort to Kinross in October in the Prix de la Forêt (G1). She was a rallying fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in November at Keeneland to close out her campaign when 1 ¾ lengths back of victorious Modern Games.

Moyglare Stud Farm then purchased Malavath for more than $3.3 million from the Arqana December breeding-stock sale and sent her to Clément’s care at Payson Park in Florida. She made her debut for current connections in April when a distant fifth in the one-mile Plenty of Grace at Aqueduct and returned two months later to land sixth in the 1 1/16-mile Eatontown (G3) at Monmouth Park, finishing 6 ½ lengths back of next-out graded-stakes winner Consumer Spending.

The chestnut has breezed back 11 times, including a bullet half-mile in 49.0 seconds Friday over the Oklahoma training turf at Saratoga.

“She had two starts so far for us. They were rather disappointing,” said Clément, who shares the record with Chad Brown for most Noble Damsel scores at five. “We didn’t run her after the race in New Jersey. We opted to give her some time and regroup. Her works have been nice on the turf at Saratoga, and it’s time to go on again.”

Out of the New Approach mare Fidaaha, Malavath is a full-sister to Group 3 winner Knight, who is in training with Simon and Ed Crisford. Joel Rosario retains the mount from post 4 aboard Malavath, who was assigned 122 pounds.

Marylou Whitney Stables’ Kentucky homebred Not So Close in post 3 with José Lezcano at 122 pounds enters from a gate-to-wire score traveling one mile over good going Aug. 17 at Saratoga.

Trained by Norm Casse, Not So Close made her first six starts over the main track, including front-running scores in an off-the-turf, one-mile, maiden special weight in July 2022 at Ellis Park and in an optional-claiming route in March at Fair Grounds. She finished a close second in her turf debut July 1 at Ellis Park ahead of her Spa score, which the third-place finisher Sister Lou Ann exited to win the One Dreamer at Kentucky Downs.

By Empire Maker, Not So Close is out of the Mineshaft mare Bird Legacy, who is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winners Birdstone and Bird Town.

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brown, who took this event five straight years from 2016 to 2020, will be represented by multiple graded-stakes winner Fluffy Socks in post 5 with Manny Franco at 126 pounds, Grade 1 winner Gina Romantica from post 6 with Flavien Prat at 122 pounds and Grade 2 winner Gerrymander making her turf debut in post 7 with José Ortiz at 122 pounds.

Head of Plains Partners’ Kentucky homebred Fluffy Socks has enjoyed a lightly raced but productive 5-year-old campaign, taking the Distaff Turf Mile (G2) in May at Churchill Downs and finishing a last-out second in the Ballston Spa (G2) on Aug. 24 at Saratoga when a head back of Evvie Jets. Her other effort this year was a non-threatening fifth in July in the Spa’s Diana (G1).

The 5-year-old Slumber mare boasts past graded scores in the 2020 Jimmy Durante (G3) at Del Mar and the 2021 Sands Point (G2) at Belmont Park.

Peter Brant’s Gina Romantica won 4 of 7 starts last year, including an impressive, 1 3/4-length score over stablemate McKulick in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) in October at Keeneland to cap her campaign.

The 4-year-old Into Mischief bay, a half-sister to Grade 1-winning millionaire Gift Box, was purchased for $1,025,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September yearling sale. She has made two starts this year, finishing fourth in the Eatontown ahead of a runner-up effort to Fev Rover on Aug. 12 in the Beverly D. (G1) at Colonial Downs.

Gerrymander, a 4-year-old Into Mischief bay, boasts a record of 13: 3-4-2 for purse earnings of $509,500. She has done most of her best work at Belmont Park, finishing second to Echo Zulu in the 2021 Frizette (G1) and posting wins in that year's Tempted and the Mother Goose (G2) in June 2022.

A half-sister to multiple graded-stakes-winning millionaire Lone Rock, Gerrymander is out of the graded-stakes placed Hard Spun mare Ruby Lips, who is a half-sister to multiple turf-stakes winner Like a Gem, the dam of multiple Grade 1-winning turfer Hard Not to Like.

Rounding out the field are five-time winning New York-bred Sunset Louise, post 1, Kendrick Carmouche, 122 pounds for trainer Bruce Levine; and the Linda Rice-trained multiple-graded-stakes placed New York-bred Runaway Rumour, post 2, Dylan Davis, 122 pounds, who is cross-entered in Friday’s $125,000 John Hettinger for state-breds.

With the National Weather Service forecasting a 70 percent chance of up to two inches of rain Saturday, additional main-track only entrants are graded-stakes winner Battle Bling, multiple graded-stakes placed Venti Valentine, stakes winner Balpool, five-time winner Movie Moxy and stakes placed Bustin Bay.

The Noble Damsel is the seventh of 10 races Saturday, and it is scheduled for 4:16 p.m. EDT. The first post is at 1:05 p.m.

2023 Noble Damsel G3

Post Silks Horse / Sire Rating Trainer / Jockey Last Start / Next Start HRN
1 Horse Silk Sunset Louise Sunset Louise
4.12 Bruce N. Levine
Kendrick Carmouche
5th, 2023 Johnstone Mile RS Entered
Last Race 5th, 2023 Johnstone Mile RS
2 Horse Silk Runaway Rumour Runaway Rumour
4.87 Linda Rice
Dylan Davis
3rd, 2023 Yaddo RS Entered
Last Race 3rd, 2023 Yaddo RS
3 Horse Silk Not So Close Not So Close
Empire Maker
4.12 Norm W. Casse
Jose Lezcano
1st, Sar AlwOC (8/17/23-R2) Entered
Last Race 1st, Sar AlwOC (8/17/23-R2)
4 Horse Silk Malavath Malavath
5.84 Christophe Clement
Joel Rosario
6th, 2023 Eatontown G3 Entered
Last Race 6th, 2023 Eatontown G3
5 Horse Silk Fluffy Socks Fluffy Socks
5.37 Chad C. Brown
Manuel Franco
2nd, 2023 Ballston Spa Handicap G2 Entered
Last Race 2nd, 2023 Ballston Spa Handicap G2
6 Horse Silk Gina Romantica Gina Romantica
Into Mischief
6.07 Chad C. Brown
Flavien Prat
2nd, 2023 Beverly D. Stakes G1 Entered
Last Race 2nd, 2023 Beverly D. Stakes G1
7 Horse Silk Gerrymander Gerrymander
Into Mischief
5.48 Chad C. Brown
Flavien Prat
2nd, Sar AlwOC (8/19/23-R8) Entered
Last Race 2nd, Sar AlwOC (8/19/23-R8)
8 Horse Silk Battle Bling Battle Bling
5.67 Rob Atras
Kendrick Carmouche
6th, 2023 Delaware Handicap G2 Entered
Last Race 6th, 2023 Delaware Handicap G2
9 Horse Silk Venti Valentine Venti Valentine
Firing Line
4.67 Jorge R. Abreu
Manuel Franco
1st, 2023 Johnstone Mile RS Entered
Last Race 1st, 2023 Johnstone Mile RS
10 Horse Silk Balpool Balpool
4.12 Rob Atras 6th, 2023 Delaware Oaks G3 Entered
Last Race 6th, 2023 Delaware Oaks G3
11 Horse Silk Movie Moxy Movie Moxy
Street Sense
4.12 Linda Rice
Jose L. Ortiz
1st, Bel AlwOC (6/24/23-R9) Entered
Last Race 1st, Bel AlwOC (6/24/23-R9)
12 Horse Silk Bustin Bay Bustin Bay
Bustin Stones
0.00 Fernando Abreu 2nd, Sar AlwOC (8/24/23-R7) Entered
Last Race 2nd, Sar AlwOC (8/24/23-R7)

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