07/08/2007 12:00AM

Ginger Punch helps herself in First Flight


ELMONT, N.Y. - Ginger Punch didn't need any help from her stablemate to record the first stakes victory of her career in Sunday's $150,000 First Flight Handicap at Belmont Park.

With trainer Bobby Frankel electing to scratch the speedy Sugar Swirl, Ginger Punch found another target to stalk, pouncing on Nothing But Fun less than four furlongs into the race and then running away from Sweet Fervor in the stretch to win the Grade 2 First Flight by five lengths.

Sweet Fervor was second, two lengths ahead of Swap Fliparoo. Silmaril and Nothing But Fun completed the order of finish.

Under Rafael Bejarano, Ginger Punch covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.64 over a fast main track and returned $3.20 as the favorite.

Ginger Punch, a daughter of Awesome Again owned and bred by Frank Stronach, won for the fourth time in 10 starts. In her two previous stakes tries she finished second in the Grade 2 Madison at Keeneland and second in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps here last month.

"Rafael really knows this filly well," said Scott Hansen, Frankel's New York assistant. "If he were on her the other day, I really think we would have won [the Phipps]. She's been a pleasant surprise. We might stretch her back out; I know Bobby wanted to win a graded stakes race with her. That was the main objective."

Distorted Reality's work pays off in Lexington

Distorted Reality had to work harder than expected for it, but he finally became a stakes winner on Sunday, taking the $108,000 Lexington Stakes by a half-length over a stubborn Buddy's Humor.

It was one length back to Persual in third. Pays to Dream and Mission Approved completed the order of finish in the listed stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf.

After finishing second to Marcavelly in the Grade 3 Hill Prince last month, Distorted Reality was sent off the 2-5 favorite in the Lexington. Under John Velazquez, Distorted Reality raced three wide for most of the trip while Buddy’s Humor set fractions of 24.84 seconds, 48.84, and 1:13.16.

Distorted Reality came up alongside Buddy's Humor in upper stretch but could not put him away until inside the sixteenth pole. Distorted Reality, a son of Distorted Humor owned and bred by Centaur Farms and trained by Todd Pletcher, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.45 and returned $2.90.