Alice Muller's Take D'Tour took advantage of her speed to post a front-running 5 ½-length victory over Balletto in the $147,000 Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at Belmont Park on Sunday.
In winning her third straight race and sixth in a 15-race career, Take D'Tour remained unbeaten in five starts at the Shuvee distance of one mile. She also repelled challenges form Smuggler, last year's three-year-old filly champion who finished third, and from favored Indian Vale.
Indian Vale, the 4-5 favorite in the field of five, stumbled coming out of the gate under Garrett Gomez, hustled up to challenge the pacesetter on the outside to the half-mile point, then faded to finish last.
The Shuvee was the first stakes win for Take D'Tour, a 5-year-old Florida-bred Tour d'Or mare. She broke sharply under jockey Cornelio Velasquez and set a comfortable pace of :23.35; :46.28; 1:10.84 and cruised home in 1:36.10 on the fast track that received moisture from early rain.
"She was really rank in the paddock and I told Cornelio (Velasquez), 'You'll be on the lead," said trainer David Fawkes, who is based at Calder Race Course in Miami. "When they went an opening quarter in :23 1/5, I was very happy. I didn't think she'd ever win this race that easy.
"The little bit of rain we had throughout the day tightened the track up and helped her," Fawkes added. "She's got her quirks, but she just keeps moving up.
The trainer said the $300,000 Ogden Phipps (gr. I) at Belmont on June 17 is a good possibility for Take D'tour's next start.
"It looked like she broke well and put herself in a good spot," said Indian Vale's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "She bobbled a little bit, but recovered well. The track was in good shape. We'll check her out."
Balletto rallied from last to get second. Smuggler, last season's champion 3-year-old filly, ranged into contention on the turn but settled for third. Grecian Lover was fourth.
Take D' Tour, who increased her earnings to $208,240, paid $14.40, $6.90 and $4.10. Balletto returned $9.40 and $5.80. Smuggler paid $3.60 to show.
Paul Muller bred the winner, who is out of Cherry Flare, by Mr. Washington.