Delightful Mary brings a good reputation with her to this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Earlier this year the 2-year-old filly was the sale topper at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s April sale. On behalf of John Oxley, trainer Mark Casse went to $500,000 to bring her to his barn.
Following impressive wins in maiden and entry-level allowance events on Woodbine’s Polytrack, Delightful Mary made her stakes debut in the Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine, finishing second to Wyomia as the 1-2 favorite. With the connections of Wyomia opting for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, Delightful Mary will be among the top choices Friday in the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
The filly was Casse’s favorite after she worked a quarter mile in :20 2/5 prior to the sale.
“She had one of the most remarkable breezes of any horse I’ve ever seen,” Casse said outside Barn 17 Nov. 2. “A lot of horses work fast and she galloped out in :45 3/5. I sit and watch the works (at OBS) from where they almost pull up and I walked over to her after she had worked and I wanted to see how stressed she was. It was just like she had done nothing.
“I talked to Mr. Oxley about it,” he said. “There were like 1,100 horses in the sale and I told him she was my favorite but she wasn’t going to be cheap…and she wasn’t.”
Oxley plays the game at a high level. He won the 2001 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) with Monarchos and Delightful Mary will be his third Breeders’ Cup starter. He won the 1999 Distaff (gr. I) with Beautiful Pleasure.
Delightful Mary went through the sale as part of the Hobeau Farm dispersal and was sold by Craig Wheeler, agent. A daughter of Limehouse , she is out of the French Deputy mare Deputy’s Delight and is a half sister to millionaire and grade II winner Delightful Kiss. Delightful Kiss is the winner of the Ohio Derby (gr. II) and placed in several stakes, including Churchill Downs’ Clark Handicap (gr. II) and the Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park.
In her races in Woodbine, she was ridden by Corey Fraser but will guided in the Juvenile Fillies by Shaun Bridgmohan.
“He’s an up-and-coming star in my opinion at Woodbine, but Corey’s never ridden at Churchill Downs and I think Churchill Downs is a unique racetrack,” Casse said of Fraser, a winner of Canada’s Sovereign Award for top apprentice rider. “You better know your way around the track. Corey understands; we talked about it. We had to decide: Do we want to go with someone who knows Churchill Downs or go with Corey. In the end, Corey has another horse to ride for us this weekend and he has plenty of other horses to ride for us. You’ll see him here another day…it’s just not this Friday.”
On Friday, Casse sees Awesome Feather as the horse to beat in the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies.
“She’s got the best numbers and she’s the most consistent,” he said of the unbeaten Awesome Feather. “There are three or four fillies that look all right. It’s kind of hard to say, the fillies from New York have all never gone around two turns. The fillies from California haven’t run on the dirt.
“We’re in the same boat,” he said of a start on dirt. “One thing I like is we do have two races around two turns, which is nice. My filly is bred for dirt. Her half brother was a good dirt horse.”
Delightful Mary just might be even better on the dirt. She took to the main track under the Twin Spires Oct. 25 and fired a five-furlong bullet in 1:00, breezing.
“I feel as good as anybody,” Casse said of his chances in the Juvenile Fillies. “But, if I could eliminate one horse, that would be the filly from Calder.”