Con Lima stalks and scores in Wonder Again Stakes
Mike Welsch DRF
ELMONT, N.Y. – Con Lima won a Grade 3 stakes and may have found a new dimension in the process, rating off the pace of stablemate Jouster before rallying to a half-length victory over the late-striding Plum Ali in Thursday’s $200,000 Wonder Again for 3-year-old fillies on the turf at Belmont Park.
With the speedy Jouster in the field, Con Lima, as expected, was allowed to settle in perfect striking position just off the lead while saving ground under her newest rider, Flavien Prat. Con Lima bided her time for seven furlongs, tipped out to go after the leader upon settling into the stretch, and readily overtook her tiring mate inside the sixteenth pole before withstanding Plum Ali’s closing surge.
Plum Ali trailed the field to the stretch, came widest while commencing her bid leaving the turn, finished strongly down the center of the course, but could not reach the winner. Gift List, who also lagged near the rear of the field and off the relatively slow pace, showed a strong late surge of her own while hugging the rail down the stretch. She finished third, another three parts of a length behind Plum Ali, as the very tepid 3-1 favorite. Jouster faded in the closing stages to be fourth.
The win was the sixth for Con Lima, a daughter of Commissioner, who has finished worse than second just once in 11 career starts. The Wonder Again was her second graded stakes tally. She also won the Grade 3 Herecomessthebride, via a stewards disqualification, this winter at Gulfstream Park.
Todd Pletcher trains Con Lima for a partnership headed by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. She completed nine furlongs over a good course in 1:50.84 and returned $18.60 as the longer priced of the two Pletcher entrants in the race.
“She seems to be better on grass, I’m not sure why, pedigree wise it doesn’t jump out at you,” Pletcher said. “She’s been very consistent for us, she shows up every time, and the fact her sire, Commissioner, finished second in the Belmont and that she doesn’t seem to mind some give in the ground gives confidence she might even go a mile and a quarter.”
Rating and winning off the pace, after having been on or with the lead in most of her previous starts, also could give Pletcher some new options for Con Lima down the road.
“We knew Jouster was probably the faster of the two, so I told Flavien to kind of sit in behind her, and she kicked on when it mattered,” Pletcher said. “She’s shown she can do it both ways now.”
Pletcher said he felt the distance might have been the problem for Jouster, who set very reasonable fractions but could not close the deal in the end.
“She’s probably a miler, we kind of had to find out which direction to go with her,” Pletcher said. “I thought she ran well. She seemed to relax nicely, seemed to handle the soft course okay, she just didn’t seem to want to see out the mile and an eighth.”