Havre de Grace romps in Beldame
Fox Hill Farm's Havre de Grace easily lived up to her 2-5 favoritism in Saturday's $343,000 Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park, dragging jockey Ramon Dominguez to the lead exiting the final turn and drawing off to dominate her four rivals by 8 1/4 lengths in impressive style. The bay lass earned an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic with the win, but trainer Larry Jones immediately told ESPN Classic's Jeannine Edwards that she would probably be headed to the Breeders' Cup Classic.
"She has the speed to match up with them," he said. "I'm sure we will see Uncle Mo in there. He was very impressive 30 minutes ago (when winning the Grade 2 Kelso), and it should make it very interesting."
Havre de Grace has already beaten the boys once, taking the Grade 1 Woodward last out, and is firmly in the running for Horse of the Year honors.
Defending winner Life at Ten took the lead in the Grade 1 Beldame and shook loose by four lengths through the first quarter in :23 2/5. Banker's Buy and Havre de Grace were closest to her, but then Royal Delta suddenly shot toward the front. Havre de Grace followed, and those two went on up to press the pace through a half-mile in :46 3/5.
Havre de Grace was still on cruise control entering the turn, and all Dominguez had to do was shake the reins for his bay mount to take off. The daughter of Saint Liam effortlessly too over and pulled away under wraps to finish the nine-furlong, muddy event in 1:49 1/5.
"It was very easy. She was in control the whole time, and turning for home I made sure I had her running," Dominguez said. "I got after her some, and when I took a peek back inside three-sixteenths she was in front by many, and she did it pretty easy.
"She's a special horse. Being a filly, it's like she's the underdog, so to speak. She's as good as the males, to me. Physically, the way she handled herself and her power, she's really a racehorse. You never underestimate anybody, but I wouldn't trade places with anybody, either."
Havre de Grace is likely headed to the BC Classic off her Beldame tour de force (Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos)
Havre de Grace boosted her bankroll to $2,196,175 and has yet to be unplaced in 14 starts, boasting a 14-8-4-2 line. She returned $2.90, $2.10 and $2.10 as the heavy favorite.
"I seriously think this is the closest I've ever witnessed the perfect race horse," Jones said. "I thought Secretariat was that when he retired. If she has a flaw anywhere, anyhow, I haven't found it.
"I was a little concerned and had never seen her run over this type of track, but she responded," he admitted. "I don't think we had to ask for her best. She and I are still learning each other. I think we're starting to get there. We've got her fit now, and we don't have to put electrifying works in her. She's dead fit."
Royal Delta was best of the rest, with Satans Quick Chick running at the end to take third another 5 3/4 lengths back. Banker's Buy just got up to pass a fading Life at Ten on the wire to fill out the superfecta.
"She ran second to a very good filly," said Royal Delta's trainer, Bill Mott. "Havre de Grace is one of the top two fillies in the country. It's no disgrace to be beaten by her with a three-year-old filly. I thought our filly ran well. I think the Breeders' Cup (Ladies Classic) is a possibility. We'll see."
"She ran well. The filly that beat her is the best filly in the country," agreed Jose Lezcano, who piloted Royal Delta. "I think my filly ran a very good race."
Havre de Grace has now won six stakes, adding the Beldame to victories in the Woodward, Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap and Grade 2 Cotillion as well as a pair of Grade 3s, the Obeah and Azeri. She's placed in two Grade 1 events, the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic and Alabama last season, a pair of Grade 2s in the Delaware Handicap and Delaware Oaks, and the Go for Wand Stakes.
Bred by Nancy S. Dillman in Kentucky, Havre de Grace is out of the winning Carson City mare Easter Bunnette, who is herself a daughter of Grade 2-placed stakes victress Toll Fee.
Havre de Grace's fourth dam is influential matron Missy Baba, whose descendants include the likes of 1991 Broodmare of the Year Toll Booth and 1992 Broodmare of the Year Weekend Surprise as well as top sires A.P. Indy and Summer Squall.
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