ELMONT, N.Y. -- Devil May Care delivered an ideal present to trainer Todd Pletcher on his 43rd birthday -- a 1 1/4-length win in the Grade 1, $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday at Belmont Park.
It was the first start for Devil May Care since running 10th against the boys in the Kentucky Derby.
The circumstances were far different in the Mother Goose. The field contained only five runners, compared to 20 in the Derby.
The Mother Goose, run at 1 1/8 miles since 1959, was shortened to 1 1/16 miles this year. The distance was considerably less than the 1 1/4 miles Devil May Care tackled in the slop at Churchill Downs.
Perhaps most importantly, Devil May Care was clearly the horse to beat in the Mother Goose as the 9-10 favorite. While not overwhelming, the confident win in the Mother Goose showed that Devil May Care came through the Derby experience none the worse for wear.
"It was a big race from her, and I've always felt she was the best filly in her generation," Pletcher said. "She had shown us every sign after the Derby that she was as good as she had ever been. She trained brilliantly, like she always does. Aside from losing a little bit of weight in the Derby like most horses - colts or fillies - will do, she came out of it really well. It was just a matter of making sure we gave her the proper time."
John Velazquez rode her like she was the best, keeping Devil May Care in the four path throughout after a brief bobble at the break.
She cruised into contention on the turn and took charge as the field straightened away in the lane. Velazquez peeked back to see if anyone else was gaining while Devil May Care remained solidly in command under a hand ride.
"Down the lane, I let her do her thing, she took the lead, and it was good enough today," Velazquez said.
The win gave Devil May Care a second Grade 1 victory at Belmont, following the Frizette last October. Overall, she is 4 for 7.
The time was 1:42.06.
Connie and Michael got second, with Biofuel rallying for third following a slow start.
Pletcher's other two runners were fourth and fifth: Katy Now and Ailalea.