10/25/2013 5:34PM

Belmont Park: Wedding Toast, Baffle Me get stakes wins

NYRA photo
Wedding Toast and jockey Javier Castellano win the Belle Cherie Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths Friday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – She may not always run straight, but she sure can run fast.

Wedding Toast, following the familiar path of fellow Godolphin Racing mares Questing and Dance Card, galloped to a 3 1/2-length victory in Friday’s $100,000 Belle Cherie Stakes at Belmont Park despite drifting out several paths in the stretch.

That was the same attribute displayed by Questing, last year’s champion 3-year-old filly, and Dance Card, a Grade 1 winner last year who is headed to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint next week at Santa Anita.

“That means she must be a Grade 1 winner in waiting,” Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Wedding Toast, Dance Card, and Questing, said.

Wedding Toast’s past performances now mirror those of Dance Card. Both finished second in their debuts before winning their next three, including the Belle Cherie.

Following the Belle Cherie, Dance Card won the Gazelle at Aqueduct when that race was a Grade 1 run the last weekend of November. The Gazelle, now a Grade 2, is run in the spring. The Grade 3, $400,000 Comely, formerly run in the spring, is scheduled for Nov. 30 and will be the next spot for Wedding Toast.

After winning her last two starts in front-running fashion, including a first-level allowance race by 14 1/2 lengths last out, Wedding Toast showed a new dimension Friday. After being bumped at the break by Flash Forward, Wedding Toast rated in third underneath Javier Castellano, who swung the filly three wide approaching the quarter pole. She took over with ease turning for home and won handily despite the drifting.

Wedding Toast, a daughter of Street Sense, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.47 and returned $2.70.

“He said she kind of hopped a little, but he said he was happy with her settling; no problem,” McLaughlin said, referring to Castellano. “He said he was more impressed with her than the last time.”

Earlier on the card, Baffle Me, the 3-5 favorite, found running room in midstretch and rallied to a 2 1/4-length victory over Assateague in the $100,000 Finney Stakes on the Widener turf course.

It was the second straight seven-furlong turf stakes victory for Baffle Me, a 4-year-old daughter of First Samurai owned by Lee Lewis and trained by Mark Hennig. Ridden by Castellano, Baffle Me ran seven furlongs in 1:21.79 and returned $3.30 to win.