For fillies and mares over one mile on turf, the Grade 3 Noble Damsel has drawn a good field of nine. It is led by the Grade 1 winner #1 Coffee Clique. She is the ML favorite for the race, and while she remains in good form, she has not quite been up to the level of her perfect 3-for-3 campaign of 2014 since returning from a layoff of 294 days earlier this year.
She remains capable, and she still tries hard every time they send her out there, but she required a class drop and a ship to Parx in order to pick up her lone win of this season, and she wasn’t quite good enough despite a clean trip in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa last time.
According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, which favors neither frontrunners nor closers in this race, Coffee Clique will be in a nice stalking position early. We make her the horse to beat, but we are trying to beat her.
Among the alternatives to the favorite in this race are the other graded stakes winners in the field, #2 Marbre Rose and #8 Lady Lara.
Marbre Rose has made six starts in North America since shipping over from France last year, and she has run well in all of them. After being badly compromised by moderate paces in her two starts over this turf course this summer, she shipped to Woodbine and came with a strong finish after a perfect trip to close down the Grade 3 Seaway over polytrack. She is going to need some pace to close into here, but she runs every time, and she owns the co-top Late Pace Rating in this field (104).
Lady Lara is a true miler for Bill Mott, and she figures to appreciate the cutback to that distance here after trying 9 furlongs in a fast-paced Diana early in the meet upstate. We were impressed with her first few starts over here, and thought she was compromised by a slow pace in the Distaff Turf Mile on Derby Day, but she has not been as sharp in her last two races. To us, she is one of the most likely winners of the Noble Damsel, and we prefer her to Coffee Clique.
#5 Recepta enters this race in career best form for her highly underrated trainer, and we think she rates a serious chance to pull off a slight upset here. She was perfectly ridden when winning the restricted De La Rose last time, but she settled things quickly once coming clear in the stretch that day, and she earned a new career best TFUS Speed Figure of 116 for that effort. We like the way she has come back as a 4yo and think she is the type open to further improvement.
The Play: Recepta to win and in exactas with Marbre Rose, Lady Lara, and a little of the longshot #9 Baffle Me, who is capable of a race that can get her a piece here at a big price.