Surprising R Lady Joy withstood determined challenges from favored Round Pond and Dance Away Capote in the stretch to spring a 17-1 upset in the $500,300 Delaware Oaks (gr. II) at sloppy Delaware Park Saturday.
Ridden by Jose Lezcano, R Lady Joy disposed of pacesetting Brooke's Halo and multiple grade I winner Sis City to take command of the 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-old fillies at the top of the stretch. Challenged down the lane on her outside by Round Pond and Dance Away Capote, the bay daughter of Vicar
held them off to win by about a length over Round Pond, with Stewart Elliott aboard. Dance Away Capote, who closed from far back on the far outside for Rafael Bejarano, finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind R Lady Joy.
The final time was 1:43 1/5 on a sloppy track. R Lady Joy won for the first time in four tries on an off-track.
Brooke's Halo, ridden by Jason Lumpkins, blitzed away to a :23 opening quarter mile and led by four lengths after a half-mile in :46 1/5. She maintained a healthy advantage after six furlongs in 1:10 4/5 but came under keen pressure from Sis City and R Lady Joy after that.
R Lady Joy picked up her first graded stakes win for trainer Kirk Ziadie and owner Richard Averill. She was coming off a second-place finish in the Black Eyed Susan (gr. II) at Pimlico May 20 in the slop, and was third prior to that in the Fantasy (gr. II) at Oaklawn April 15, 5 1/2 lengths behind Round Pond. She won the Florida Oaks by nine lengths at Tampa Bay March 19.
Ziade intentionally gave R. Lady Joy the last two months to get her ready for the Delaware Oaks.
"After her last race, I mentioned to the owner that if we get two months with her, we will clean up this race and it just came through," he said. "We had a plan. I needed two months with her and I got her where I wanted her. She put on lot of weight and she looked great. She started to tail off from her last two races."
Overall, she has a 3-2-2 record in eight starts and earnings of $472,430.
Martha Burleson bred R Lady Joy, who is out of the Cormorant mare Come On Joy, in Kentucky. The winner was a $72,000 Ocala buy in March 2004.
R Lady Joy paid $36, $5.40, and $2.80. Round Pond returned $2.80 and $2.10. Dance Away Capote's show was $2.40.
The 6-5 second choice Sis City finished a lackluster fourth after looming into contention on the turn. Then came Lisaized and Brooke's Halo. Bayou Breeze and Pleasant Chimes scratched.