Prohibitive choice Havre de Grace took her third consecutive graded event this year with a facile 2 1/4-length triumph over four rivals in the $168,000 Obeah Stakes (gr. III) at Delaware Park June 11 (VIDEO).
The 4-year-old daughter of Saint Liam—Easter Bunnette, by Carson City remains on target for the $750,000 Delaware Handicap (gr. II) July 16 for owner Fox Hill Farms and trainer Larry Jones. The bay filly, bred in Kentucky by Nancy S. Dillman, had been off since capturing the prestigious Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park April 15.
“Her effort today was what we were looking for and wanting to get before the Delaware Handicap,” said Jones, who won the Delaware 'Cap in 2005 with Island Sand. “We wanted to have a trip over the track, that way no one could have an advantage on us. Going into the Delaware Handicap we not only want to think we have the best horse, we want to make sure we have taken the best path we can take.”
With Gabriel Saez riding her for the first time, 1-5 shot Havre de Grace rated kindly in third early during the 1 1/8-mile journey on a fast track as Sarah's Song led the small field until the quarter pole.
Havre de Grace ranged into contention on the final turn and took over in the lane, shaking loose by two lengths at the furlong marker and cruising home in a final time of 1:49.87. Tiz Miz Sue, rallying from last along the inside for Joseph Rocco Jr., finished willingly to take second by 4 3/4 lengths over Sweet N Sour and Rosie Napravnik.
Fractions were moderate: :24.14 for the opening quarter-mile, :48.29 for the half, and 1:12.72 after six furlongs.
Undefeated in 2011, Havre de Grace began the year with a 3 1/4-length win in the Azeri Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn March 19. She returned a month later to take the Apple Blossom by three-quarters of a length over the well-regarded Switch.
A grade II winner at 3 who ran third in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I), Havre de Grace improved her career record to 6-3-2 in 11 races while banking $1,371,175. She earned $108,000 for the Obeah victory.
The favorite carried top weight of 123 pounds, two more than the runner-up, and paid $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10. Tiz Miz Sue returned $3.80 and $2.40 and completed a $6.20 exacta. Sweet N Sour Nina was $2.40 to show. Sarah's Song and Repreive trailed.