It was no dream trip for Mi Sueno, but the even-money favorite's talent won out in the $300,000 Darley Debutante (gr. I) (VIDEO) at Del Mar Sept. 5.
The $1.7- million daughter of Pulpit--Madcap Escapade, appeared beaten in the stretch but she rallied between horses for jockey Michael Baze to win the seven-furlong Polytrack event for 2-year-old fillies by one length over the fast-developing Blind Luck. La Nez finished third. The final time was 1:23.78
Owned by Southern Equine Stable and trained by Eric Guillot, Mi Sueno remained on track for a shot at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Nov. 6 at Santa Anita with her second graded stakes win. This one proved to be much more difficult than her 6 1/2-length romp in the Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) one month ago, however.
Mi Sueno was in good position while racing off the rail down the backstretch, but seemed to lose focus rounding the turn as her rivals surrounded her. Trapped behind horses, the filly appeared to be in trouble, falling all the way back to sixth when Blind Luck and La Nez swept past her on the outside in upper stretch.
But Baze found a seam to the outside while four wide and Mi Sueno responded to urging to engage La Nez, who had gained a narrow advantage mid-stretch, Blind Luck, and It Tiz. The quartet battled throughout the final furlong, with Mi Sueno prevailing as they closed in on the wire.
Blind Luck, ridden by Tyler Baze, nipped 41-1 shot La Nez and Victor Espinoza by a head for the runner-up spot, with 28-1 It Tiz just a neck back in fourth. Blind Luck had a difficult break from the inside post, bumping early and trailing the field, but she finished strongly while closing five wide.
"She was messin' around a little bit out there today," Michael Baze said of the winner. "It isn't that she's green, she was just messin'. She didn't like that track a whole lot. It wasn't as fast as it has been and she wasn't picking it up so well. But when Tyler's horse got in front of her at the eighth pole -- a head or a neck -- she just rebroke and went after her. I knew I was a winner then. When she puts in her run, she's plenty good. And distance will be no problem for her. The farther the better."
"She was a little rank on the backstretch, and it looked like she was struggling a little, but she settled finally and she kicked in at the eighth pole," Guillot said. "I think this filly is beginning to learn mentally, and to relax mentally. She'll relax even more when she starts running two turns. She has matured a lot as time has gone on. We'll be aiming for the Breeders' Cup [Juvenile Fillies]."
Grade III winner Necessary Evil, the second choice in the wagering, posted the early fractions -- :22.60 and :45.59 -- while fighting to get the lead from Punctual. She put that one away on the turn but tired in the lane and faded to sixth.
Guillot has been high on Mi Sueno, purchased as a weanling at the Keeneland November mixed sale in 2007, since the start. Out of a multiple grade I winner, she was consigned by Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency and bred in partnership by Southern Equine, Bruce Lunsford, and Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings.
Mi Sueno started her career with a second-place finish behind Necessary Evil going five furlongs at Hollywood Park May 31, then ran second by one length to Octogarian in another maiden allowance July 9 at at Hollywood, this time at three-quarters of a mile. Facing stakes company in the 6 1/2-furlong Sorrento at Del Mar Aug. 7, she broke through with her first win, clocking an impressive 1:16 2/5 while well clear of runner-up Necessary Evil.
The Debutante victory was worth $180,000, boosting Mi Sueno's career earnings to $288,400.
Mi Sueno paid $4, $2.60, and $2.20, topping a $2 exacta worth $14.60.
Blind Luck, who had won the first two starts of her career for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, returned $3.80 and $3.40 as the 4-1 third choice.
"She's a really nice filly," Tyler Baze said of the runner-up. "If she ran straight today, I win easy. But she's so green; she was all over the place. But, oh, is she talented. Very talented. She's the kind that can win the Breeders' Cup."
La Nez, who broke her maiden in her third start Aug. 15 at Del Mar for trainer Eric Kruljac, was $7 to show.
"She was wound up in the paddock," Espinoza said. "She was wound up on parade. Too much. I think it hurt her. When we turned for home, I thought I was going to win easy. But I think she left a good part of her race in the warm up."
It Tiz was followed home by Repo, Necessary Evil, Punctual, and Ridemetothemoon. Champagne d'Oro, who is expected to face males in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) Sept. 7, and the maiden Pure Class scratched.