Martin S. Schwartz’s Off Limits came with a furious rally down the stretch of Saturday’s $196,000 Noble Damsel Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park to score an easy 4 3/4-length victory under jockey Joel Rosario.
The Mastercraftsman filly broke from the far outside 5 post and bumped twice with Time and Motion just to her inside at the start. As that rival continued forward to press the pacesetting Sassy Little Lila, Off Limits settled into a waiting position in the back of the field.
Sassy Little Lila established splits of :23.67, :46.78 and 1:09.45 on the front end, with Time and Motion drafting just off her flank to the outside. Malibu Stacy followed in third down on the inside, while Celestine kept pace to that one’s outside.
Rounding the turn, Time and Motion put in her run and came close to drawing even with Sassy Little Lila. It was all for naught, though, as Off Limits suddenly kicked into gear upon hitting the lane and blew past the entire field on the outside. The Chad Brown-trained mare pulled off to win in a geared down time of 1:32.51 for a mile on the firm turf.
Off Limits was sent off the 8-5 favorite and returned $5.40 for securing her first stateside stakes win. Sassy Little Lila just kept her head in front on the wire to take second over Celestine, who got up by that same margin to hold Time and Motion to fourth. Malibu Stacy completed the order of finish.
Off Limits began her career in her native Ireland, breaking her maiden at Leopardstown in 2014 and going on to take a listed contest at Killarney a year later. She rounded out her time overseas with a nice fourth in the Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes (Ire-G3) at Gowran Park in September of 2015, and then was shipped from trainer David Wachman’s yard to Brown’s stable in the United States.
The chestnut mare ran fifth, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths, in her stateside debut at Gulfstream Park in February 2016 against allowance/optional claiming rivals, and proceeded to fill the fourth spot in similar conditions at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga. Off Limits just missed by a half-length when second at Saratoga last September and was given the rest of the year off.
The long vacation seemed to have been just what the Irish-bred distaffer needed, as she returned a 1 1/2-length winner while making her five-year-old bow on June 1 at Belmont. Off Limits missed by a neck in the Perfect Sting Stakes two back at Belmont on July 1, and brought an allowance/optional claiming win from the Spa into the Noble Damsel.
Bred by Carlingford Breeding Syndicate, Off Limits improved her career record on Saturday to read 15-5-2-1, $334,405. She is out of the Efisio mare Ravish, making her a half-sister to listed-placed Seinellanima and from a black-type rich female family. Her third dam is the multiple stakes-winning Gallant Romeo mare Highest Regard, who is best known for producing dual Grade 1 hero and 1989 Kentucky Derby (G1) third-placer Awe Inspiring.
NOBLE DAMSEL QUOTES
Cherie DeVaux, assistant trainer Off Limits, winner
“I think she ran exceptionally well. (Jockey) Joel (Rosario) rode her really patiently and gave her a nice ride. The one-mile distance seems to be her affinity. (Trainer) Chad (Brown) and (owner) Mr. (Martin) Schwartz gave her some time off between this year and last year, which seems to have benefited her tremendously.”
Joel Rosario, jockey Off Limits, winner
“It seemed like it was an honest pace in front of me and I just listened to the instructions. Chad Brown told me to let her get comfortable and let her come with a run at the end and she did. She really sprinted turning for home. I tipped her on the outside turning for home and it was all her.”