Joseph's Shifty She takes them all the way in the G3 Noble Damsel

Joseph's Shifty She takes them all the way in the G3 Noble Damsel
Photo: Susie Raisher/NYRA

Shifty She made every call a winning one in Saturday’s 34th renewal of the Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel, a one-mile Widener turf test for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, at Belmont Park.

Trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., the 5-year-old Gone Astray mare was reunited with rider Edwin Gonzalez, who had piloted the bay to prominent stakes scores in the Powder Bay in May and Ginger Punch in June, both at Gulfstream Park.

Pallas, who co-bred the mare in Florida with George Klein, said he was thrilled to see Shifty She make the grade after missing all of her 4-year-old season.

“She had a little leg injury last year so we gave her a lot of time off and it’s proved to be the right thing. Just look at the time, she finished in 1:33 and change, that’s racehorse time,” Pallas said. “In this game, you’ve got to be very patient. Patience is the key. The little guys like us, sometimes we can play in the big leagues. I flew my jockey up today and it paid off for us.”

Shifty She broke alertly from post 4 and marked the opening quarter-mile in 23.33 seconds over the firm going with Tamahere, last-out winner of the Violet at Monmouth Park, tracking from second position under Irad Ortiz, Jr. as one of two contenders for trainer Chad Brown who had won the last five renewals.

Tamahere loomed large outside of Shifty She as High Opinion advanced three-wide through the turn with In a Hurry pressing on from a rail-riding position after a half-mile in 46.20. But Shifty She kicked on strong from the top of the lane and never wavered en route to a 1 1/2-length win in a final time of 1:33.24.

High Opinion chased gamely to the wire to complete the exacta over the late-running Flower Point. In a Hurry, the Brown-trained Love and Thunder, Tamahere, Risky Mischief and Marlborough Red rounded out the order of finish. Platinum Paynter and main-track only entrant Truth Hurts were scratched.

The victory marked the first NYRA circuit stakes win for Gonzalez, taking over from Irad Ortiz, Jr., who had guided Shifty She to a third-place finish in the De La Rose in August at Saratoga and a close fourth in the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf in September.

“She’s a very nice filly and she was comfortable up front. She was nice and relaxed and I waited until the last eighth of a mile to run,” Gonzalez said.

Jockey Luis Saez said the Tony Dutrow-trained High Opinion, who finished a nose shy of victory in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa in August at Saratoga, was game to the wire.

“The winner just kept going. We made our move and I thought we were going to be right there,” Saez said. “My filly ran really big. She always tries pretty hard. Today we were second best, but she always puts in a good effort.”

Shifty She, who Pallas said will now target the Grade 3, $500,000 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf on January 29 at Gulfstream, banked $110,000 in victory while improving her record to 10-6-0-1. She paid $15.20 for a $2 win wager.

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