10/11/2012 3:46PM

Belmont Park: Athenia contenders Ruthenia, La Cloche both fond of local turf


ELMONT, N.Y. – Ruthenia and La Cloche each has siblings that have won multiple stakes and earned more than $1.2 million. The one thing both share with their more accomplished sisters is an affinity for the Belmont Park turf.

On Saturday, Ruthenia and La Cloche square off as two of the main protagonists in the Grade 3, $150,000 Athenia Stakes at 1 1/16 miles over Belmont’s inner turf.

Ruthenia is a full sister to the 10-time stakes winner Rutherienne, who went 3 for 4 on turf at Belmont. Ruthenia is 2 for 4 at Belmont winning the first two starts of her career here in the fall of 2010.

Ruthenia, trained by Christophe Clement, began this year with wins at Gulfstream and Monmouth before finishing fourth in the Eatontown at Monmouth and fourth in the Ballston Spa at Saratoga. In the Ballston Spa, Ruthenia was beaten 5 3/4 lengths by Zagora, who set a Saratoga course record in that race.

“Even though she got beat, she ran a very good race at Saratoga,” Clement said. “She was against the best. This is a much easier spot on paper. She’s training well. I’d expect her to be competitive.”

Ruthenia breaks from post 2 under Jose Lezcano.

La Cloche has recorded three of her four career wins at Belmont, where her half-sister Winter Memories won 4 of 5 starts.

Toner said that La Cloche likely bounced in the De La Rose at Saratoga, then was dealing with a foot issue which prevented Toner from training the mare as he would have liked leading up to the Noble Damsel, where she finished sixth.

La Cloche ran with an aluminum pad in the Noble Damsel and will run in it again Saturday, Toner said. However, Toner notes that La Cloche’s works leading up to this have been stronger than prior to the Noble Damsel.

“She had some issues with her feet and I had to take it easy with her,” Toner said. “Now she’s been able to get some decent breezes into her.”

Toner said that La Cloche does her best running when she is outside of horses. Saturday, she breaks from the rail for the fourth time in her last five starts.

Junior Alvarado rides La Cloche.

There appears to be some pace in the Athenia with Laughing, a front-running winner of the Grade 3 Matchmaker at Monmouth on July 29, The Underling and Thundering Emilia.

Martita Sangrita, who won the Red Carpet at Penn National in July; Embarr, a listed stakes winner at Colonial; Dealbata, runner-up in the Noble Damsel; and Law of the Range, complete the field.