06/23/2006 11:00PM

Noble Stella edges Angara


ELMONT, N.Y. - Noble Stella held off a late charge from Angara to score a neck win in the Grade 2, $250,000 for fillies and mares Saturday at Belmont Park.

Noble Stella ($11.20) ran the 1 1/4 miles in 2:08.26 on the inner turf course, which was softened by several heavy showers during the afternoon. A 5-year-old mare trained by Roger Attfield, Noble Stella earned her seventh win in 24 career starts.

Just as they did in the Sheepshead Bay Handicap here May 27, jockey Mike Smith and Noble Stella teamed to set a reasonable pace in the New York BC. This time, however, there was no Honey Ryder in the field to run her down in the final stages.

"She handled the soft going really well," Smith said. "Every time I got after her, she just kept pushing herself forward and just stayed there."

Argentina, the 9-5 favorite, was third. She was making her fourth start in the U.S. for trainer Bobby Frankel after starting her career in France and was coming off a third in the Grade 1 Gamely Breeders' Cup Stakes at Hollywood Park.

"She really had no excuse," said jockey Edgar Prado. "She had a good trip and just weakened in the end."

Asi Siempre was fourth, followed by Omeya, Smart N Classy, and Dynamite Lass. Charmsil was the only scratch.

Earlier on the card, Latent Heat ($2.40) made a triumphant return in a $75,000 optional claimer, splashing to a 9 1/2-length victory in the mud. He ran the seven furlongs in 1:23.16, with Kent Desormeaux aboard for Frankel.

Latent Heat was making his first start since March 4, when he finished third behind Brother Derek in the Grade 2 Santa Catalina Stakes at Santa Anita. He suffered a shin injury in the race and was withdrawn from the Triple Crown trail.

Wahran was compromised at the start of the race and declared a non-starter by the stewards. All wagers on him were refunded.

The scratch of Wahran reduced the field to four betting interests. As a result, all show and trifecta wagers were refunded.