Posted by Brian Appleton on July 26, 2011
2011 is once again turning into the “year of the filly”. While the older filly and mare division appears jam-packed with talent, and houses perhaps the two best horses in the nation in Blind Luck and Havre de Grace, the 3-year-old filly division continues to impress as the season progresses, producing truly stellar efforts that showcase a rare depth of talent.
In Saturday’s Coaching Club American Oaks five fillies lined up in the Saratoga starting gate to contest leadership of the division. Plum Pretty went off the post time favorite off her Kentucky Oaks (gr.1) victory and second place finish in the Hollywood Oaks, while Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr.2) heroine, Royal Delta, was sent off the second choice. It’s Tricky, fresh off her huge upset win in the Acorn Stakes (gr.1) over Turbulent Descent, was made the third choice over Mother Goose (gr.1) winner Buster’s Ready and Kentucky Oaks favorite Joyful Victory. It’s Tricky entered the race a winner of four of five lifetime starts, her only blemish a dull fourth place finish in the Gulfstream Oaks (gr.2) where she finished more than 20 lengths behind R Heat Lighting.
As the gates flew open to the ring of the bell Plum Pretty bolted to the lead like a shot, breaking a full ¾ lengths ahead of the field and angling towards the rail as It’s Tricky came from the far outside to race in second as the field approached the first turn. Buster’s ready and John Velazquez slipped through on the rail as Plum Pretty navigated the first turn, moving into a close second position with It’s Tricky on the outside in third. It was just one length back to Joyful Victory and Royal Delta as Plum Pretty led the way into the backstretch. After the opening quarter in :23.88 It’s Tricky moved up slightly to take the advantage from Buster’s Ready, less than a length behind Martin Garcia and Plum Pretty. Royal Delta fell two lengths off the pack as Buster’s Ready continued to vie with It’s Tricky for the second position.
Plum Pretty continued to lead the way after running the half in :47.55, It’s Tricky just one length off the lead while Joyful Victory and jockey Ramon Dominguez took over a close third. Royal Delta began to move forward as the field entered the far turn but on the front end It’s Tricky and Plum Pretty suddenly spurted away from the field, opening up two lengths on Joyful Victory and separated by just a neck.
Flying off the turn It’s Tricky came to even terms with Plum Pretty and those two turned it into a two horse runaway, now more than four lengths ahead of the field as they angled for the wire. Martin Garcia’s hands scrubbed frantically across his filly’s neck, urging her to maintain her slim advantage as Eddie Castro and It’s Tricky refused to yield an inch. Royal Delta was a distant third, six lengths behind the dashing duo. With homestretch running out It’s Tricky dug a little deeper, gaining inch by inch on her gallant opponent, both fillies desperately holding on to their positions. With a final surge It’s Tricky eased past Plum Pretty and dashed under the line, three parts of the length the best. It was more than six lengths back to a well beaten Royal Delta in third and another 3 ¾ lengths back to Buster’s Ready in fourth, with Joyful Victory finishing seven lengths farther back in last.
With the win It’s Tricky becomes the first sophomore filly of the year to string together consecutive Grade 1 wins and takes command of her division. She easily took down the best one-turn filly in the nation when defeating Turbulent Descent in the Acorn Stakes, and has now defeated a group of some of the strongest middle distance fillies in the nation. With the exception of Grade 1 winner Zazu, It’s Tricky has defeated almost all the best fillies in her division. The next goal for the Mineshaft filly is the Alabama Stakes (gr.1) at Saratoga on August 20th where she could meet St. John’s River as well as Inglorious. [Originally posted on Distaff Runner at Horse Racing Nation]