Under brisk urging from jockey Brice Blanc, favored Delta Princess drove to a half-length victory in the $164,550 Locust Grove Handicap (gr. IIIT) Saturday for her second consecutive graded stakes victory on the Churchill Downs lawn.
In a repeat of her sparkling win in the Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT) June 4, Delta Princess again defeated Shaconage with a big finish. She completed the 1 1/8-mile event for fillies and mares on a firm course in 1:48 4/5. She has now won her only two starts on the Churchill Downs grass.
"At the top of the lane I was a little worried, because obviously there wasn't much pace and I rode Shaconage and I know that she can finish up a little," said Blanc. "Going that slow, I was afraid I might not catch her. But she (Delta Princess) beat me a couple of times this winter in Florida, so I know she's got a hell of a last sixteenth of a mile and she showed it today."
Shaconage, who finished a length behind Delta Princess in the Mint Julep, was a head in front of Marwood Saturday. The 121-pound high weight Katdogawn, the 5-2 second choice of the public in the field of six, finished fourth.
Bill Mott trains Delta Princess, a 6-year-old mare by A.P. Indy
-Lyphard's Delta (Lyphard) who won for the 11th time in her 26 career starts and has banked $649,278. So far in 2005, she has three wins and two seconds in five outings with earnings of $267,283 for owner Saud bin Khaled.
Delta Princess, carrying 119 pounds, was up close while tracking the pacesetters Shaconage and Marwood along the inside through fractions of :25, :49 3/5, 1:13 2/5 and 1:37. As the field closed in on her in mid-stretch, Blanc was forced to angle Delta Princes five wide and she kicked in for the final sixteenth to get up in time.
Shaconage, who battled for the lead with Marwood while racing on the outside for Mike Smith, gained a narrow advantage in deep stretch and just missed in the final yards.
"She accelerated and I thought for sure it was enough – and she (Delta Princess) got me anyway," Smith sighed.
John McKee was aboard Marwood for her strong upset bid.
After Katdogawn, Pad the Wallet and Cape Town Lass completed the order. Baxter Hall scratched.
Delta Princess paid $4.40, $2.60 and $2.20 as the 6-5 choice. Shaconage, who has lost 10 races in a row, returned $3.40 and $2.60. Marwood was $3.20 to show in her Churchill grass debut.