Proud Spell Rebounds in Delaware Oaks
The Larry Jones-trained daughter of Proud Citizen stayed perfect on the Delaware Park main track with her third successive win, defeating a game African Violet by three-quarters of a length. Handled firmly through the lane by jockey Gabriel Saez, she completed the 1 1/16-mile distance in a solid time of 1:43.34.
A Brereton C. Jones Kentucky homebred, Proud Spell won the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) as the favorite by five lengths May 2. After a freshening she was sent off as the 1-2 choice in the four-horse Mother Goose, but was cut up leaving the starting gate, then drifted out in the stretch to interfere with one of her rivals, Never Retreat. She struggled home second behind Music Note and was disqualified to third.
Speculation prior to the Delaware Oaks was that Proud Spell would scratch. Trainer Jones, though, felt Proud Spell rebounded quickly from the troubled race and brought her right back in this spot over her favorite track.
Proud Spell settled slightly off the pace in striking distance while racing three paths wide as stablemate Maren's Meadows set a even pace of :24 1/5, :48 2/5 and 1:11 4/5. Asked for more when African Violet moved to the lead rounding the final turn, Proud Spell gradually pulled even in the lane as Maren's Meadow dropped back. Shes All Eltish rallied on the extreme outside at the head of the stretch but tired late as Proud Spell and African Violet edged away. Proud Spell got the lead inside the eighth pole. But African Violet, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, kept fighting from the inside as they approached the wire, only giving way slightly in the final strides.
Shes All Eltish, with Eddie Castro aboard, finished third.
Proud Spell began her career with three consecutive wins -- the first two coming at Delaware -- before finishing second to Indian Blessing in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) in October. Besides the Kentucky Oaks, she also won the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) this year, beating the previously undefeated Indian Blessing by 2 1/4 lengths.
Never out of the money in 10 starts, Proud Spell has won six times while earning $1,615,110. The bay filly is out of the Langfuhr mare Pacific Spell.
Sent off a 3-10 in a six-horse field, she paid $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10. African Violet, second last time out in Delaware's Susan's Girl for trainer H. Graham Motion, returned $3.80 and $3.20. Shes All Eltish, conditioned by Martin Wolfson, was $2.20 to show.
Weathered, who tired after pressing the pace along the inside, finished fourth, followed by Maren's Meadow and Cape Cod Lady. French Kiss and Snowy Elegance scratched.
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