07/25/2008 11:00PM

Ginger Punch looks good for repeat


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - More often than not, there's no catching Ginger Punch. She has won 10 times in 18 starts, including last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff, which brought her an Eclipse Award as the best filly or mare in the land.

On Thursday morning at Saratoga, though, Ginger Punch made a break for it. After a routine training session, she got loose from her handlers near the Oklahoma training track, and wandered off a few barns before, fortunately, being caught.

"She has a little nick on her right hind ankle," said her trainer, Bobby Frankel. "You can hardly see it. She's fine."

That might be the only time Ginger Punch is caught this week. On Saturday, Ginger Punch will shoot for her fifth Grade 1 victory when she seeks a repeat in the $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap, a race she won by six lengths a year ago. Seven others were entered against Ginger Punch, including her Frankel-trained, Frank Stronach-owned stablemate Spring Waltz, who is merely in as a backup in case something unforeseen befalls Ginger Punch before scratch time Saturday.

The winner of the 1 1/8-mile Go for Wand gets an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic - the new name for the Distaff - through the Breeders' Cup's Win and You're In program.

"As if she wouldn't get in otherwise?" Frankel said.

Ginger Punch will be a heavy favorite. She has won 4 of her last 5 starts, most recently a 7 3/4-length romp in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park on June 14.

"She's doing great," an animated Frankel said. "She looks 100 times better than she did a year ago. She's a lot stronger. She's put on weight and muscle. She really developed from last year to this year. I don't think we've seen the best from her. There's more there."

Ginger Punch was assigned top weight of 124 pounds, which equals the highest assignment of her career. She will concede from seven to 11 pounds to her rivals.

Spring Waltz won four straight before finishing fourth in the Delaware Handicap on July 13. Moon Catcher finished fifth, 15 lengths behind Ginger Punch, in the Phipps.

Runway Rosie has finished first or second in 6 of her last 7 starts, including a victory in the Proud Delta Stakes at Belmont Park. Inside Passage, another Go for Wand entrant, was third in that race.

Indescribable won the Arlington Matron going 1 1/8 miles two starts back.

- additional reporting by David Grening