09/15/2012 5:03PM

Belmont Park: Clement takes a shot . . . and scores in Noble Damsel

Tod Marks
Naples Bay wins the Grade 3 Noble Damsel at odds of 13-1 for trainer Christophe Clement.

ELMONT, N.Y. - When it comes to running in stakes races, trainer Christophe Clement has often been accused of being on the conservative side, only entering when his horses are live on the toteboard.

So, Clement took some satisfaction Saturday when Naples Bay, dismissed at 13-1, held off a late challenge from 6-5 favorite Dealbata to win the Grade 3, $150,000 Noble Damsel by 1 1/2 lengths at Belmont Park.

“It’s nice to win races with not a 2-1 shot and it just shows sometimes you have to take a shot and it’s wonderful,” said Clement who also saddled the fourth-place finisher Federation, an 8-1 shot.

Clement said he took a shot in the Noble Damsel because he felt Naples Bay was impressive winning a second-level allowance race at Monmouth Park last month and because his owner, Edward Cox Jr., kind of coaxed him into giving this race a shot.

“I’ve got an owner that’s got a very strong character and more often than not he’s right,” Clement said. “He told me to think about [this] race and he was absolutely right.”

On a firm course that was favoring speed, Naples Bay was kept in third position, but about eight lengths back, by Jose Lezcano while Silver Screamer, under Jose Espinoza, set solid fractions of 23.41 seconds for the quarter and 46.18 for the half-mile.

Naples Bay crept closer around the far turn and was tipped three wide by Lezcano turning for home. Naples Bay passed stablemate Federation at the eighth pole and collared Silver Screamer inside the sixteenth pole. She was well clear as Dealbata, under Ramon Dominguez, gave futile chase in deep stretch. Dealbata finished second by one-half length over Silver Screamer.

Naples Bay, a daughter of Giant’s Causeway and a half-sister to the Grade 1 winner Medaglia d’Oro, covered the mile in 1:33.96 and returned $28 to win.

“She’s bit tougher now and also we got to know this filly much better,” Clement said. “We slightly under-train her now compared to what we used to do and she’s got better, without a doubt, with age.”

Clement, who won this race for the third time, said he had no plan as to what might be next for Naples Bay.

“Let’s enjoy this,” he said.