Last on the turn for home, Tell a Kelly swept to an eye-catching 4 1/2-length victory in the $250,000 Darley Debutante (gr. I) (VIDEO) at Del Mar Sept. 4 in her first try against winners.
With Jockey Alonso Quinonez aboard, Tell a Kelly advanced between horses coming out of the turn, then was angled to the outside approaching mid-stretch where she bumped with A Z Warrior briefly before bursting for home. She overcame 5-2 favorite Wickedly Perfect, who had opened a 2 1/2-length lead, at the sixteenth pole and drew off under a light tap of the whip and a steady hand ride.
Tell a Kelly completed the seven-furlong Polytrack test for 10 juvenile fillies in 1:23.05. Wickedly Perfect, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, was a clear second by 2 1/4 lengths with Rigoletta and Mike Smith third.
A daughter of Tapit --Evrobi, by Tabasco Cat, Tell a Kelly was a $45,000 Keeneland yearling buy last September. John Sadler trains the chestnut filly for owners Ike and Dawn Thrash.
Tell a Kelly scored an impressive 2 1/2-length maiden victory at six furlongs at Del Mar in the second start of her career Aug. 15. She went off as the fourth choice in the Debutante.
Gone Rebel sped to the front and led out of the chute before Wickedly Perfect took over along the inside and led Gone Rebel on a hot contested pace of :22.11 and :44.96. Sugarinthemorning, racing third, advanced into second when Gone Rebel tired on the turn and A Z Warrior went for an early run on the far outside. But in the stretch, the previously unbeaten Wickedly Perfect kicked clear and appeared headed to her third consecutive win.
Tell a Kelly, far back early as the field spread out down the backstretch, gathered momentum as the field reached the turn and found plenty of room to propel her bid into the lane. Quinonez had the option to take Tell a Kelly to the inside of Sugarinthemorning but made the winning move when he angled her to the outside for her final charge. After her skirmish with A Z Warrior, Tell a Kelly had clear aim on Wickedly Perfect and was much the best.
"She broke well and I could tell they were going very, very fast up there," said Quinonez, who has ridden Tell a Kelly in all three of her starts. "I just let her settle and then I started looking for my spots. I didn't want to get caught in behind some horse that was stopping; I wanted to go with the horses that were going. It all worked out great. I asked her and she exploded."
Bejarano said he thought he was in command with Wickedly Perfect.
"I didn't expect to be on the lead, but nobody was going," Bejarano said of the runner-up. "My filly was relaxed up there and she was running well. She ran well at the end, too. It was just that the winner went by me so easy I couldn't believe it. She (Tell a Kelly) was the best."
The winner began her career inconspicuously enough when she split a filed of nine maidens after a slow start at Del Mar July 25, losing by 5 1/2 lengths at 24-1 odds. She came back three weeks later, registering a clear win over maidens after trailing the field early and rallying four wide into the lane. Her Debutante victory was worth $150,000 to her connections and boosted her overall earnings to $181,000.
"The first race she ran here she was pretty green, but showed a lot of determination," Sadler said. "The second time she caught a heavy favorite and was much better and won. We were asking a lot of her running three times at Del Mar, but Stardom Bound did it a couple of years ago, so we gave it a try.
"I was hoping there would be a good pace, because she likes to ease back and settle. She was able to do that today. We'll stay home and run at Oak Tree in the Oak Leaf (gr. I) and then head for Kentucky for the Breeders' Cup [Juvenile Fillies]."
As is the case with most of the Thrash horses, they are named for members of the family. Tell a Kelly is named for a daughter. The win gave the family two grade I winners this year. Line of David, the winner of the Arkansas Derby (gr. I), is named for Kelly's husband, David Oliver.
Karen C. West bred the winner in Florida.
Tell a Kelly's owners receive a free breeding season to the Darley stallion Street Boss , who has a 2010 fee of $20,000. West, the breeder of Tell a Kelly, also receives a free breeding season, this one to the Darley stallion Any Given Saturday, whose 2010 breeding fee is $25,000.
Tell a Kelly carried 118 pounds, four fewer than top-weighted Wickedly Perfect, and paid $11.20, $5.60 and $3.60. She keyed a $41.80 exacta. Wickedly Perfect, conditioned by leading Del Mar trainer Doug O'Neill, returned $4.40 and $3.20. Rigoletta, coming off a maiden win at Del Mar Aug. 8 for trainer Dan Hendricks, was $9.20 to show. The $2 trifecta was worth $825.40.
Maiden Izshelegal ran on for fourth, followed by A Z Warrior, Sugarinthemorning, Righteous Renee, Avid, She'll Heir and Gone Rebel. Big Tiz and Distant Glow scratched.