09/24/2016 6:40PM

Mrs McDougal leads Noble Damsel start to finish


A change of tactics led to a change of fortune for Mrs McDougal, who led from start to finish in winning Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel Stakes at Belmont Park.

Under Irad Ortiz Jr., Mrs McDougal carved out splits of 24.42 seconds for the quarter, 48.64 for the half-mile, 1:12.27 for six furlongs, and covered the mile in a solid 1:34.99 over a turf course rated good after overnight rains.

Mrs McDougal beat stablemate Zindaya by two lengths as trainer Chad Brown finished 1-2 in the Noble Damsel, one of three stakes victories on the day for Brown. He also won the Grade 2, $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby with Connect and the Grade 2 Commonwealth Derby at Laurel with Deeply Undervalued.

For Mrs McDougal, a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro owned by Mr. and Mrs. William Warren, the win was her fifth from 11 starts. She was coming out of two Grade 1 tries where she attempted to come from off the pace. She hadn’t won since taking the Plenty of Grace, a listed stakes at Aqueduct in April, also from off the pace.

But it was her victory in an allowance race at Aqueduct in April 2015 that gave Brown the confidence to put her on the lead. That day, Mrs McDougal went gate to wire, winning by 7 1/4 lengths.

“We talked about possibly going to the lead, there was no clear frontrunner in the race,” Brown said. “Changing tactics, and it worked."

Mrs McDougal returned $4.20 as the even-money favorite.

Zindaya rallied for second, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Stormy Victoria.

“Zindaya ran a good race,” Brown said. “There wasn't a lot of pace in the race and you have the favorite carving out the fractions. It's a lot to do, but she finished real well. Both fillies are real quality fillies. A mile seems to fit both of them well and we'll try to keep both at that middle distance now.”