09/27/2008 11:00PM

Cocoa Beach wins Beldame


ELMONT, N.Y. – The deep distaff division welcomed a new member to the fold as Cocoa Beach rallied past defending champion Ginger Punch in the final 20 yards to win the Grade 1, $600,000 Beldame Stakes by a half-length, possibly earning a spot in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic next month at Santa Anita.

Ginger Punch, who set all the early fractions under Rafael Bejarano, had to settle for second, 13 1/2 lengths ahead of Lemon Drop Mom. Leah’s Secret finished last. Unbridled Belle, last year’s Beldame winner, was scratched because of track condition and will run in next Sunday’s Spinster at Keeneland.

Lemon Drop Mom, who came within a nose of Ginger Punch in the Personal Ensign, was vanned off with an injury to her left front tendon, according to track veterinarian Dr. Anthony Verderosa.

The victory was the eighth from 10 starts for Cocoa Beach, who had won group stakes in Chile and rich listed stakes in Dubai. She was coming off a minor stakes win at Saratoga in August.

“The filly looked like a different filly than she was in Dubai,” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor. “She improved. She’s stronger, she’s professional now. The last race really helped her a lot.”

Under Ramon Dominguez, Cocoa Beach was last early on, but she put herself into contention entering the far turn and moved into second behind Ginger Punch, who set fractions of 24.61 seconds, 48.18, and 1:12.26.

Dominguez tipped Cocoa Beach off the rail in upper stretch and she was able to wear down Ginger Punch late. Cocoa Beach, a 4-year-old daughter of Doneraile Court, covered the 1 1/8 miles in the slop in 1:49.50. She returned $7.10 as the second choice.

“Turning for home I knew Ginger Punch was the filly in front, so you don’t really underestimate her by any means,” Dominguez said. “But I felt my filly was very relaxed and I was expecting her to pick it up, and she did and she ran a very game race.”

Suroor said the $2 million Ladies Classic on Oct. 24 at Santa Anita is under consideration.

Bobby Frankel, trainer of Ginger Punch, doesn’t think his mare runs her best on the lead, but acknowledged that Bejarano had no choice but to put her there.

“The only time she gets beat is when she’s on the lead,” Frankel said.

Despite the loss, Ginger Punch surpassed the $3 million mark in earnings with $3,065,603.

Joe Hirsch: Grand Couturier romps

Grand Couturier, under Alan Garcia, relished the yielding Widener turf course, roaring to a powerful 10 1/4-length victory in the Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. Longshot Interpatation got up in the final strides to get second by a nose over Summer Patriot.

Grand Couturier had to withstand a jockey’s objection from Kent Desormeaux, the rider of Interpatation who alleged interference entering the far turn. Though the two horses did brush, and Interpatation did appear to hit the rail and subsequently checked off heels, the stewards did not make a change.

Grand Couturier, a 5-year-old son of Grand Lodge owned by Marc Keller and trained by Robert Ribaudo, added the Turf Classic to his earlier victory in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga and now will head to the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

Grand Couturier covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:34.84 and returned $7.30 as the favorite.

“It was beyond my imagination, we knew he was doing good like we said all along, but that was incredible; something you dream about,” Ribaudo said.

Flower Bowl: Dynaforce upsets Mauralakana

Despite surrendering the lead to favored Mauralakana at the five-sixteenths pole, Dynaforce, under Alan Garcia, reclaimed the lead in upper stretch and rolled to a four-length victory in the Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl.

Mauralakana, the 3-5 favorite who looked like she was going to sweep past Dynaforce easily, held second by a neck over Communique. Jade Queen and Palmilla completed the order of finish. Hostess was scratched and will run in Saturday’s E.P. Taylor at Woodbine.

The victory was the first from four starts in this country for Dynaforce, a 5-year-old daughter of Dynaformer who had run in France for Andre Fabre before being turned over to trainer Bill Mott. She is owned and was bred by John Chandler.

Over a yielding inner turf course, Dynaforce got away with fractions of 26.23 seconds, 52.87, 1:19.22, and 1:43.45, which left plenty in the tank for her to repel Mauralakana. Dynaforce covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:07.59 and returned $8.60.