09/07/2011 3:19PM

Presque Isle: Mile distance suits Stunning Stag and Noble's Promise

Michael Burns
Stunning Stag will try to better his third-place finish in last year's Presque Isle Mile.

The distance of Friday’s $250,000 Presque Isle Mile looks perfect for Noble’s Promise and Stunning Stag, two of the race’s 12 expected starters. Stunning Stag will be shortening up from a mile and a sixteenth in his last two starts while Noble’s Promise will be stretching out from three straight six-furlong races.

Still, both horses will have their work cut out against Wise Dan, winner of the Grade 2 Firecracker at Churchill in his last out July 4. The Mile will be run over Presque Isle’s Tapeta surface.

Stunning Stag, trained by Sid Attard, has been out only three times this year but has given a good account of himself in a trio of Grade  3 events on Polytrack at Woodbine. The 7-year-old gelding won the Vigil in his first start of the year on May 8 going seven furlongs, then in his next out May 28 finished third in the Eclipse. In his most recent race on Aug. 6 he finished second, beaten a head, in the Seagram Cup. Stunning Stag’s only career attempt at a mile came in last year’s Presque Isle Mile, when he finished third under jockey Gerry Olguin.

“Gerry came back after the race and said it was his fault, he moved too soon,” Attard said. “He begged me to come back this year. He is very happy we are running there.”

In last year’s Mile, Stunning Stag came from off the pace to get within three-quarters of a length of the lead at the quarter pole before flattening out late.

“The horse has one good kick and I am sure Gerry will wait until the right time this year,” Attard said.

Noble’s Promise, now 4, won the Grade 3 Aristides at Churchill on June 4. He then finished third at Calder in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint on July 9. In his most recent start, he was an even fifth in the Grade  1 Vanderbilt at Saratoga. Trainer Ken McPeek settled on this race because of a lack of other options.

“We were reluctant, but there wasn’t much else for him,” McPeek said. “He is capable, he won a Grade  1 at a mile and a sixteenth and has won over the track. He will give a good account of himself.”

Noble’s Promise’s Grade 1 win came in the 2009 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. He won the Presque Isle Juvenile the same year. Alan Garcia will be in to ride Friday.

Wise Dan won the one-mile Firecracker in his first turf attempt. The victory was his first from four tries this year. Last season the Charles Lopresti trainee won 4 of 6 starts, including the Grade 3 Phoenix at Keeneland. Jon Court retains the mount.

◗ Entries were taken for Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Masters Wednesday and 15 fillies and mares were entered in the 6 1/2-furlong race. Of those, only 14 will make the program and 12, based on earnings, will be allowed to run.

Those in the body of the race, in post position order, are Shotgun Gulch, Love That Dance, Malibu Wind, Musical Romance, Beat the Blues, Kitty in a Tizzy, Worstcasescenario, Jenny’s So Great, Waccamah, D’wild Ride, Ariana D, and Sweet Lorena.

The also-eligibles are Diamond Song and Promised Mandate. Divine Sophia will only make the program if there is a scratch Thursday morning.