John M. Liviakis’ homebred filly Mighty Caroline, second choice in the betting at 4-1 under jockey Joel Rosario, forged to the front in the upper stretch and went on to a convincing 1 1/4-length victory in the Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-old fillies at Del Mar Aug. 5 (VIDEO).
Mighty Caroline is trained by Melody Conlon, who was winning her first stakes.
“We were hoping she would rate (behind the leader) and it worked out perfect,” said Conlon. “She did just enough. You plan things like that and most of the time it doesn’t happen, but this time it did. This is my biggest win (in 10 years of training). My first stakes, my first graded stakes, and first stakes at Del Mar.”
But in the Sorrento, which marked Mighty Caroline’s graded stakes debut, she stalked pacesetting longshot River Kiss, who clicked off fractions of 22.94, 46.40, and 1:10.41. At the top of the stretch, Mighty Caroline took the lead and ran strongly to the wire to win in 1:16.75 for the 6 1/2 furlongs over Polytrack.
“It was a golden trip—she was right where I wanted to be,” said jockey Joel Rosario, who was winning his second stakes of the meet, but his first ever in the Sorrento. He now has 18 stakes wins at Del Mar.
“She was a little nervous at the beginning, but then she relaxed,” he added. “That’s the key with her--get her to relax. She’s a nice filly. I think she can run on, too. I think I still had something left (at the end). She’s been training real well and today she ran real well. This race should help her.”
Killer Graces stumbled badly at the break and failed to threaten, finishing sixth.
“I just had no horse,” said jockey Joe Talamo of the 11-10 favorite. “I asked her on the turn and went by Mike Smith (on Wee Highland Lass). There was room to run, but then she just wasn’t there.”
Kentucky-bred Mighty Caroline earned $90,000 with her second win in three starts to push her career bankroll to $140,000. She returned $10, $5.20, and $3.60. Heleonor Rugby paid $8.80 and $4.40, while River Kiss returned $3.60 to show.
Conlon said the Sept. 3 Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) is the next goal for Mighty Caroline.