07/27/2007 11:00PM

Ginger Punch by six in Go for Wand


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Ginger Punch's meteoric rise up the filly and mare handicap division continued Saturday at Saratoga with her convincing six-length victory over Miss Shop in the $500,000 Go for Wand Handicap.

Ginger Punch's first Grade 1 win earned her a guaranteed spot in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, although to start she will have to be supplemented into the race at a cost of $180,000 to her owner, Frank Stronach, who also won this race a year ago with Spun Sugar.

Ginger Punch, who did not win her second-level allowance conditions until May 5, first served notice that she would be a force to reckon with in the division when she was beaten a neck by Take D' Tour in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park. She followed that performance with an easy five-length triumph in the Grade 2 First Flight Handicap.

Stretching out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time in her career, Ginger Punch stalked the early pace of Teammate through moderate fractions of 24.07 seconds and 48.83. Under confident handling from jockey Rafael Bejarano, Ginger Punch challenged the leader leaving the backstretch, shook loose upon settling into the stretch, and steadily extended her advantage through the final furlong.

Miss Shop rallied mildly to be second best, finishing 2 1/4 lengths in front of the tiring Teammate. Ermine raced well-placed for six furlongs before tiring badly to finish sixth and last.

Ginger Punch completed the distance in 1:49.19 over a fast track and paid $4.50.

"I was a little bit concerned about the distance, but I thought she'd be all right because she's easy to ride and relaxes behind any kind of pace," said trainer Bobby Frankel.

Frankel credited Ginger Punch's improvement this season to laser treatments she underwent last winter to remove a couple of growths on her throat that were impairing her breathing.

He said he was not aware that Ginger Punch was not Breeders' Cup-eligible.

"I really don't think too much about the Breeders' Cup at this point of the year," said Frankel. "It's still a long way away and you've got to keep them sound. In this game, you have strawberries today and jam tomorrow. But we'll probably point her for the Ruffian and then the Breeders' Cup."