DELAWARE OAKS | PURSE: $300,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 2 | 1 1/16 MILES
Tim F. Ritchey Racing Stables and Beverly Frazier's Dancing Afleet came running in the final yards of Saturday's Grade 2, $308,000 Delaware Oaks to deny pacesetter Ile St. Molly the win by a half-length in the 1 1/16-mile contest. Jockey Joshua Navarro was aboard as the Afleet Alex sophomore stopped the clock in 1:44 2/5 over the wet-fast dirt at Delaware Park.
Maracuya was the 6-5 favorite in the race and immediately bolted to the lead when the gates opened. The chestnut miss wasn't alone, though, as Ile St. Molly quickly angled in from her outside post to take command of the race. Maracuya was rank down on the rail, tossing her head and fighting jockey Edgar Prado rounding the first turn. She seemed to settle on the backstretch, but continued battling for the lead, even ranging up to take over nearing the final turn as the duo set splits of :23 3/5, :47 3/5 and 1:11 2/5.
However, the early shenanigans seemed to have taken a toll on the filly and she backed up as Ile St. Molly regained command to lead the way into the stretch. That stakes-winning miss appeared set for a first graded victory, but Dancing Afleet was just unleashing her rally.
Navarro had kept Dancing Afleet biding her time just in behind as the leaders fought it out down the backstretch. She had plenty left in reserve for the lane, and came flying to pay $21.80, $8.60 and $5 as the 9-1 fourth choice in the nine-filly field.
Ile St. Molly suffered a tough beat but retained second by 1 ¾ lengths to gain a measure of revenge on Tell a Great Story, who had held her to a nose second in the Go for Wand last out. Makayla's Angel was next under the wire while completing the order of finish were Maddy's Dance, Alli Leigh, Maracuya, Broomsage and Diva Spirit.
Dancing Afleet took three tries to break her maiden for trainer Ritchey, finally getting the job done on June 13 at Delaware by 7 ¾ lengths on a sloppy, sealed track. She returned just 11 days later to take an optional claimer by 3 ¾ lengths over a wet-fast surface, and improved her resume Saturday to read 5-3-0-1 with this first stakes try.
Bred in Pennsylvania by Barbara Brown and Chuck Zacney, Dancing Afleet sold to Ritchey for $28,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Eastern Fall yearling and has more than earned that back having now banked $248,950 lifetime. She is out of the winning Citidancer mare Mrs. Vanderbilt, whose first registered foal is dual stakes victor Tujoes.
Mrs. Vanderbilt is a half-sister to stakes vixen Sagamoon, and farther back in this female family one can find two-time Horse of the Year and breed-defining sire Native Dancer.