10/09/2008 11:00PM

Criminologist edge to repeat over Waquoit's Love


ELMONT, N.Y. – Criminologist and Waquoit’s Love laid it on the line in the Noble Damsel. Four weeks later, they clash again in Saturday’s $100,000 Athenia Handicap on the Widener turf at Belmont Park.

Criminologist is 4 for 4 in Grade 3 stakes, a streak that began with a decisive victory in last year’s Athenia for trainer Shug McGaughey and which she kept alive with a sustained run to nail Waquoit’s Love in the one-mile Noble Damsel.

“It was kind of a heart-breaking loss,” said Tim Hills, trainer of Waquoit’s Love. “We had missed some time with her this spring because of a bruised hoof. She’s a big mare, and it takes her a long time to get over something like that and get fit. The Noble Damsel was by far her best race this year, and I really think the soft ground didn’t help her at all.”

Criminologist should be favored by the stretch-out to 1 1/16 miles, a distance at which she has won 5 of 6 starts.

The versatile Waquoit’s Love was beaten less than a length in the Suwannee River going 1 1/8 miles earlier this year, however, and stalked the pace in that race after breaking from a tough outside post. Of her three allowance wins, two are from off the pace.

“The Noble Damsel was a paceless race and she wound up on the lead,” said Hills.

The pace of the Athenia should be more contentious, due to the presence of Oh Deanne O and Sunshine for Life.

Oh Deanne O, who comes off a nose loss in a division of the Revidere Stakes at Monmouth Park, got her last three wins by setting or pressing the early pace.

Sunshine for Life gets a class check following a wire-to-wire upset of second-level allowance rivals at Saratoga.

Also entered are Social Queen, who is the only graded winner other than Criminologist, Marie Rossa, Classic Neel, and Criticism.

Criticism, a Darley Stable homebred, raced 12 times in France last year, and was competitive in several starts against males, among them a win in a listed stakes and a rallying third in the Group 3 Prix Andre Baboin.

Criticism will make her first start in 10 months.t§#PlP