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Unbridled Humor 6-5 Favorite in Athenia

10 November 14: Unbridled Humor (no. 11), ridden by John Velazquez and trained by H. Graham Motion, wins the Memories of Silver Stakes for three year old fillies at Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park, New York. (Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire)
Unbridled Humor will look for her sixth career victory as she heads a field of eight turf fillies and mares in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Athenia at Belmont Park.

The 4-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor exits a front-running score in Belmont's Grade 3, one-mile Noble Damsel on September 18, a race which followed her first loss, a seventh-place showing in the Grade 1, 1 1/8-mile Diana at Saratoga Race Course on July 30.

"It was a huge jump to go into a Grade 1 off her previous [allowance] victory," said Graham Motion, who trains the filly for Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation. "I don't regret it, I think it was the right move at the time, but from an experience standpoint, it was a big jump."

Favored in the Diana, an eager Unbridled Humor was well-held on the lead by jockey John Velazquez before giving way in the stretch. Though the filly came successfully from off the pace to win the Memories of Silver overnight stakes last November at Aqueduct, Motion said he believes Unbridled Humor may do her best running on or near the lead.

"I think that will be her style," said Motion. "She's a somewhat free-running type and we're inclined to let her do her thing, I think we learned that in the Diana."

Because the filly has some quirks, Motion said she would ship to Belmont Friday in order to train over the track in advance of Saturday's 1 1/16-mile Athenia.

"We'll follow the same plan we did the last time," said Motion. "She's very much a creature of habit, and I think it's good for her."

John Velazquez, aboard for four of Unbridled Humor's five career victories, will ride the 6-5 morning-line favorite from post position 7.

Seven other fillies and mares have been entered to face Unbridled Humor in the Athenia, and all boast an experience edge over the favorite, who has run just six times. Most accomplished of the challengers is Mrs. Alec Head's 5-year old Denomination, a multiple Grade and Group 3 winner in the U.S. and France. She will be making her first start since May 30 when victorious in the Grade 3 Violet at Monmouth Park, her second graded stakes win of 2011 for trainer Christophe Clement.

Prior to the Violet, Denomination was eighth in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare at Keeneland, her first start on an artificial surface; won the Grade 3 Hillsborough Stakes on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs on March 12, defeating eventual Grade 1 Diana winner Zagora by a neck, and was third in Tampa Bay's Grade 3 Endeavour.

"She had a break over the summer, she looks great and is training well," said Clement. "She is a little bit big, I hope I've got her fit enough, but she's a nice filly and usually good horses can overcome."

Denomination has six published works since late August, most recently breezing four furlongs over the main track at Belmont in 49.64 on October 5. Joe Bravo has the call aboard the 4-1 third choice on the morning line from post 6.

Attempting to turn the tables on Unbridled Humor will be Noble Damsel runner-up Thai Haku.

The Irish-bred Thai Haku - Group 2- and 3-placed for former trainer Mikel Delzangles - made her first stateside start in the Noble Damsel and came from last in the field of seven to grab second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Aquitaine. Owned by Charlotte Musgrave and since transferred to the care of Chad Brown, the 4-year-old daughter of Oasis Dream worked four furlongs over the Belmont Park training track in 49.84 on Monday.

Jose Lezcano will ride the 7-2 morning line second-choice from post 4.

Also back from the Noble Damsel is Aquitaine, 12-1 on the morning line, who gets the services of Alex Solis from post 2 for her second foray into graded stakes company for trainer Michael Matz. Matz will also send out Thundering Emilia, most recently third in Saratoga's Paris Opera stakes on September 3.

The 1-2 finishers from Monmouth's Politely Stakes on September 18 have both been entered in the Athenia, with Stormy Dixie (8-1) to leave from post 5 under David Cohen and Nefertiti (15-1) to depart post 3 with Ryan Curatolo aboard.

Countess Lemonade, who exits a fourth-place finish in optional claiming company at Monmouth on August 7, completes the field. C C's Pal was entered Main Track Only and could run if the Athenia is taken off the turf.

The field for the Grade 3, $100,000 Athenia:








Countess Lemonade (KY)

J L Espinoza


T A Pletcher



Aquitaine (KY)

A O Solis


M R Matz



Nefertiti (KY)

R Curatolo


L Delacour



Thai Haku (IRE)

J Lezcano


C C Brown



Stormy Dixie (FL)

D Cohen


A E Goldberg



Denomination (KY)

J Bravo


C Clement



Unbridled Humor (FL)

J R Velazquez


H G Motion



Thundering Emilia (KY)

E Castro


M R Matz


AE 9

C C's Pal (FL) (MTO)



R E Dutrow, Jr.








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