Sunday’s Personal Ensign figured to be a rematch, of sorts, of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.
Winner Royal Delta vs. runner-up It’s Tricky.
Somebody forgot to tell Love and Pride.
Benefitting from the removal of blinkers and a terrible stumble at the break by It’s Tricky, Love and Pride ($22.00) scored by a half-length over Royal Delta, with It’s Tricky a remarkable third.
Love and Pride and John Velazquez sat just outside long-shot leader Brushed by a Star through comfortable fractions of :24.16 and :47.69. With the odds-on favorite Royal Delta eyeing them from a perfect position, Love and Pride collared the leader after six furlongs in 1:11.38, made the front in upper stretch and was driven to her first Grade I victory.
There was no visable excuse for Royal Delta, who was purchased following last year’s Breeders’ Cup for $8.5 million. When Mike Smith asked her for run around the far turn, she struggled, actually appearing for a moment that she would finish off the board.
She probably got second on her class, but her hard-fought victory in the Delaware Handicap in last may have taken its toll.
It’s Tricky, making her first start since May 28, stumbled so badly at the start that she may have struck the ground with her nose. It took her several strides to pick herself up, then, when Eddie Castro asked her to get back into the race, she got very keen while racing inside of rivals.
For all of her troubles, she was beaten just 11⁄2 lengths for all the money.
Love and Pride had set very fast early fractions in the Delaware Handicap before tiring to fourth. With the blinkers removed for the Personal Ensign, she relaxed perfectly.
Todd Pletcher trains the winner — a 4-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy — for Green Hills Farm.
Running time for the nine furlongs was 1:49.22.
Clear and 82 degrees at first post. Fast and very firm with no portable rails. Problems with the odds display for several minutes before and after the ninth race.
What an impressive debut for 2-year-old filly Sign ($22.00). Burdened with the inside post — which often isn’t easy for an inexperienced horse — Sign was a bit rank and green while sitting an inside, in-behind trip to the turn. With three fillies — Honor Bright, 6-5 favorite Lenderoflastresort and Graceful Rage — battling across the track, Rosie Napravnik eased Sign off the fence, sent the daughter of Pulpit four-wide around the leaders, and strode away to a very impressive 113⁄4-length romp.
Al Stall, who is having a very fine meet, trains the winner, whose bottom half of the family is turf.
Apologize, the 2-1 second choice, hopped in the air at the start — getting away last — moved up into striking position to the turn but came up empty.
While Todd Pletcher didn’t win in here, his fillies, Honor Bright and Marcellina d’Oro, ran second and third, respectively, while Lenderoflastresort tired badly to finish sixth.
While you may not get 10-1 again on Sign for a while, remember her name — just hum The Five Man Electrical Band song of the 1970s — and watch for her.
Fiddlers Afleet ($10.20) atoned for a very poor effort over the track in last by capturing the Clever Electrician overnight stakes. Moving to leader Johannesburg Smile after a soft half in :46.40, Fiddlers Afleet and Alan Garcia finally collared the leader at the 1/16th pole and went on to outgame that one by a half-length.
Sailmate, the 2-1 favorite who finished third, took the worst of it. He tried to rally four-wide around the turn, but with a final three furlongs in a very quick :36.32, he was really up against it. He only got beat a length, and ran quite well.
Nice story in this state-bred maiden contest. Mr Cowboy ($5.60), owned in part by Joanne and Mark Pepper of Cabin Creek Farm and two dozen other local residents, parlayed a perfect turf trip under Ramon Dominguez into an emotional winner’s circle celebration. The gelding, who was born and raised at the Greenfield Center facility, was nursed back to life by Joanne Pepper after he had stopped breathing. He was breathing just fine Sunday afternoon, as he scored by 11⁄2 lengths in the $65,000 event. Cabin Creek, the Bobby Frankel division, is a farm mainly for retired thoroughbreds, and is named after the late Hall of Fame trainer.
Currency Swap, sixth as the favorite in Saturday’s King’s Bishop, came out of the race fine, according to his trainer, Terri Pompay. The Saratoga Springs native said that her colt wasn’t comfortable being pinned down along the inside, and that Rajiv Maragh never had a chance to get him outside of horses. Pompay, whose year-end goal for Currency Swap remains the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, said the Sept. 22 Gallant Bob at Parx, or more likely the Sept. 29 Vosburgh vs. older at Belmont would be his next start.
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