With Rajiv Maragh aboard, Invading Humor bounded to the front along with Princess Mara and the two raced in tandem to the half.
Still ahead rounding the turn, Invading Humor began edging clear of Princess Mara, but was overtaken by the oncoming favorite, Effie Trinket, and Mah Jong Maddnes.
Invading Humor refused to yield, however, and grimly fought back to regain the lead inside the eighth pole with enough left to hold off the late run from Strike Accord.
“I didn’t ask her until I got to the stretch” said Maragh. “I thought I still had horse, but until you let them loose you never know.”
It was the fourth straight win and first in a stakes for Invading Humor, who won a pair of allowance events at Saratoga Race Course during the summer, preceded by a hard-fought victory in an optional claimer in July at Belmont.
“She’s really been a little bit of a surprise,” said Bruce Levine, who trains the 4-year-old Invasor filly for Bloodlines Racing Partnership. “She’s overachieved this year. She’s got a big heart and is as game as they come.”
Effie Trinket held on for third, followed by Selenite, Dreaming of Cara, Frosty Bay, Stock Fund, Mah Jong Maddnes, and Princess Mara. Main track only entrants Carameaway and Get Gorgeous were scratched.
Invading Humor enhanced her record to 6-1-1 from 12 career starts. The winner’s purse of $75,000 lifted her earnings to $303,700. Her next start likely will come in the Iroquois on Empire Showcase Day on October 18 at Belmont Park.
(Jenny Kellner) Euro imports come up big
A pair of fillies who were making their North American debuts swept the graded stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park, with Ball Dancing employing a strong turn of foot to win the Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point for 3-year-old fillies and Annecdote using similar tactics to take the Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel for fillies and mares.
Ball Dancing, a listed stakes winner in France who was making her first start for trainer Chad Brown, bided her time in eighth in the field of nine under Joe Bravo.
She began to pick off rivals on the far turn and entered the stretch full of run, despite being passed by stablemate Xcellence.
The Brown duo raced in tandem in the stretch before Ball Dancing wrested command from Xcellence 70 yards from the finish en route to a half-length victory.
Ball Dancing is owned by W. S. Farish and F. Steve Mooney. She is 3-1-0 in six starts, with $300,000 winner’s share of the Sands Point purse enhancing her bankroll to $396,282.
In the Noble Damsel, Annecdote idled along in ninth, about eight lengths behind Byrama, who led through a half-mile in 47.46 as a light rain fell on the turf course.
Ahead of just one horse straightening for home, Annecdote kicked into high gear inside the eighth pole and swept widest of all to hit the wire 2 ¾ lengths in front of the pacesetter.
Owned by George Bolton and Peter Leidel, Annecdote, a Group 3 winner in England, is now 6-1-1 from 14 career starts. The 4-year-old Lucky Story filly has now earned $280,499.
(Jon Forbes) Looking Ahead
This weekend at Belmont Park will feature the 21st running of the Gallant Bloom Handicap, a grade-two stakes race with a $300,000 purse on Saturday. It is a 6 1/2-furlong affair for fillies and mare three years and up.
Sunday features two stakes races, the first being the 35th running of the Bertram F. Bongard for New York-bred two year olds. It’s seven furlong on dirt with a $150,000 purse.
Next is the 21st running of the Joseph A. Gimma, which is also seven furlongs on the dirt for New York-bred two-year-old fillies. It carries a purse of $150,000