Overlooked at odds of 7-1, Glencrest Farm’s Devil May Care took over at the top of the stretch and bounded away to a 2 3/4-length victory in the $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) March 20 at Gulfstream Park.
Winner of the grade I Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park as a juvenile, Devil May Care disappointed in her last two starts, including a fifth-place finish as the odds-on favorite last month in the Silverbulletday (gr. III) at Fair Grounds. The Todd Pletcher trainee dispatched a short but tough field in the Bonnie Miss, including 6-5 favorite Christine Daae and two-time graded stakes winner Amen Hallelujah.
Breaking from post 3 under John Velazquez in a six-horse field, Devil May Care was content to sit off the pace in the 1 1/8-mile Bonnie Miss. She saved ground along the inside while California shipper Switch took the field around in opening splits of :23.68 and :47.28. Amen Hallelujah pressed the leader under Julien Leparoux, while Christine Daae raced in a perfect stalking position just off those two.
Amen Hallelujah, a 6 1/4-length winner of the Davona Dale (gr. II) last out, took over as they made their way into the turn (six furlongs in 1:10.76) and was going well on the lead while turning for home. But Devil May Care was gaining ground on the new leader while angling out for her bid and after putting away a tiring Christine Daae, overtook Amen Hallelujah just inside the eighth-pole. She ducked in sharply approaching the sixteenth-pole but was still much the best while hitting the wire in 1:49.06 over a fast track.
Amen Hallelujah was runner-up, five lengths in front of Joanie's Catch. Switch was fourth while Christine Daae finished a disappointing fifth in her stakes debut.
"I saw that the other horse (Amen Hallelujah) was still in hand, but my filly was in hand too, and I always knew we were able to go by any time I wanted," Velazquez said. "But the most important thing with this filly is to not make the lead too soon, because I know that once she makes the lead, she tries to stop and wants to put the brakes on. She did that today; and then she started going in and out a little through the stretch. But when I got her mind back to running, she kept on going with a nice kick. She has tremendous talent, but she still has some learning to do.”
Devil May Care, bred in Kentucky by Diamond A Racing, solidified her status as a major contender for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) next month at Churchill Downs. She won for the third time in five starts and has now earned $399,000. The bay filly’s other loss came in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) last November when finishing 11th.
“We’ve always thought a lot of this filly, but I’m not surprised that some could be a little skeptical after her last two races," Pletcher said. "In the case of the Breeders’ Cup, it was simply a matter of she hated the synthetic (track). She trained great for the race in Louisiana, but then she misbehaved at the gate and then they got pretty severe with her and then used tongs, which most fillies don’t handle well.
"When she made the lead so easily today she ducked when she started to see things, which makes you consider putting blinkers on, although you don’t like to that after a winning race. We’ll see about that. She’ll go right to the (Kentucky) Oaks from this race.”
By Malibu Moon, out of the Red Ransom mare Kelli’s Ransom, Devil May Care was purchased by John Greathouse’s Glencrest Farm for $110,000 at the Keeneland September 2008 yearling sale.
Sent off as the fourth choice, Devil May Care paid $16.20, $5.80, and $3.80. The exacta (3-5) returned $49, and the trifecta (3-5-4) was $116.30 for $1.