Peace Preserver springs upset


Still last in mid-stretch, Peace Preserver rallied between horses to secure the first graded stakes win of her career with an upset tally in the $200,000 Noble Damsel Stakes Sept. 14 at Belmont Park.

Last in the field of six fillies and mares turning for home, Alto Racing's Peace Preserver launched a late rally under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. as they surged between Naples Bay and Laugh Out Loud to post a half-length victory in the one-mile turf race.

"I sat and waited until the quarter pole but I couldn't go out, so I stayed inside where I wouldn't lose too much ground," Ortiz said. "When room opened up, she gave me everything she had. When I asked her, she picked it up pretty good."

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Peace Preserver got the jump on Hungry Island in mid-stretch as the field bunched up. That one rallied with the winner but could not get past. Emory Hamilton's Hungry Island settled for second while 4-5 favorite Better Lucky nabbed third, another three-quarter-lengths back on the outside.

A 4-year-old War Front filly, Peace Preserver placed in a pair of stakes at Belmont Park in the spring, including a runner-up finish in the Beaugay Stakes May 4, but she entered off a seventh-place finish in an allowance-optional claiming race July 22 at Saratoga Race Course. Also winner of last year's Pebbles Stakes at Belmont, Peace Preserver has earned $382,166 with a 5-3-3 record from 16 starts.

"She'd had a little bit of rough luck this summer. She obviously has an affinity for this place, and it was nice to see her put it all together," said Pletcher assistant Mike McCarthy. "During the beginning of the summer here she had a rough couple of weeks, and we were able to get her squared away up at Saratoga. She spent some time at Monmouth and then shipped to Saratoga. She had an incident in her stall here and got herself banged up."

The dramatic Noble Damsel finish followed Assateague cutting the early fractions, going a half-mile in :46.92 and six furlongs in 1:10.33 while Peace Preserver raced last, as far back as 8 ½ lengths behind before she moved closer in the far turn.

The longest shot in the field of six, Peace Preserver returned $34.20 to win, $9.70 to place, and $4 to show. Hungry Island paid $4.50 and $2.60 while Better Lucky yielded $2.30. Following the top three home were Assateague, Naples Bay, and Laugh Out Loud.

Out of the Forty Niner mare Preserver, Peace Preserver is a full sister to Grade 3 winner Jack Milton, who last month registered a third-place finish in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park. Peace Preserver was bred in Kentucky by Cherry Valley Farm.