There were two Grade 3 stakes on the turf at Belmont on Saturday before 4,003 fans under clear skies and temperatures in the low 50's. With 3 weeks to go before the Breeders' Cup, these races could be used as preps for the Breeders' Cup Mile, Breeders' Cup Turf, or the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
The $150,000 Athenia Stakes (G3) featured a field of 8 older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course. Ruthenia was sent off as the 6-5 favorite off fourth place finishes in the Eatontown (G3) and Ballston Spa (G2) after winning the Violet (G3). In to challenge her included 5-2 second choice Laughing, 8th in the Canadian (G2) after winning the Matchmaker (G3), and 9-2 third choice La Cloche, 6th in the Noble Damsel (G3) last out.
Jockey Rajiv Maragh sent 33-1 longest shot The Underling to the lead through fractions of 25.16, 50.27, and 1:15.29 while stalked by 14-1 Thundering Emilia and 23-1 Law of the Range. Entering the stretch, The Underling tired and faded to last, allowing Law of the Range to inherit the lead. Law of the Range tired through the final furlong as La Cloche, 6th early, closed 4 wide to win by 1 1/4 lengths over 24-1 Embarr in 1:45.45 over the good inner turf course. It was 3/4 length back to Laughing third, and a neck more to favorite Ruthenia fourth.