An inside trip and a good kick at the head of the lane made all the difference for John Davison's 2-year-old filly Mystic Love, who beat the boys at odds of 16-1 Dec. 15 in the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park (VIDEO).
After breaking from post 10, 11-10 favorite Charming Kitten closed hard from the outside, but could not overcome Mystic Love's advantage. According to Trakus data, he traveled 50 feet more than the victress, a Maryland-bred daughter of Not for Love who finished one mile on "good" turf in 1:38.81, winning by half a length.
Mystic Love was a convincing four-length winner in a 5 1/2-furlong Sept. 14 maiden special weight on turf at Laurel Park. She entered the Dania Beach off a score against 11 other fillies in the Selima Stakes, a 5 1/2-furlong turf race Oct. 27 at Laurel. Between those efforts, she finished fifth over dirt as the favorite in the six-furlong Maryland Million Lassie Stakes Oct. 6, in which she saved ground on the turn and swung wide entering the stretch but had no rally.
Mystic Love was trained in Maryland by Francis Campitelli and handled in Florida by wife Jessica Campitelli.
"We believed in her, (but) it was more that we really didn't want to go a mile and a sixteenth for her first time going two turns," Jessica Campitelli explained. "So we chose to run against the boys."
Forwardly placed for the first time in her career and returned to the surface over which she excelled first time out, the young filly delivered in solid fashion. She tracked along third on the rail behind an opening quarter in :24.27 and a half in :49.41 set by Tate's Landing under slight pressure from Reporting Star.
Mystic Love commenced her move on the rail under jockey Elivs Trujillo through three-quarters in 1:14.31, slipping through a slim opening to grab the lead at the top of the stretch.
"It was a perfect trip," Trujillo said. "I saw in the program there was one horse with speed, so I sat behind. At the three-eighths pole we had a little room and it was time for us to go. This is a very nice horse."
Mystic Love spurted away to open a two-length advantage through seven-eighths in 1:26.40, then dug back in and held against the late rally of Charming Kitten and jockey John Velazquez. Charming Kitten came off a ninth-place finish for Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Todd Pletcher in the Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland Oct. 6.
"It was a perfect trip until I got to the quarter pole, when two horses bolted in front of me," Velazquez remarked. "Mystic Love got through and the race was over."
Mystic Love returned $34, $11.40, and $6.80 while Charming Kitten paid $3.60 and $3. Newfound Zapper paid $3.80 a length back in third, as Itsmyluckyday, Reporting Star, Squall King, Thunder Calls, Tate's Landing, Hard to Name, and All Keyed Up completed the order of finish.
Mystic Love will next target the $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes back in her own division, going a mile against fillies at Gulfstream Jan. 27. The Dania Beach improved her record to three wins from four starts, with earnings of $174,760.
"She's always trained like: the longer the better, really," said Francis Campitelli, who joined his wife in the winner's circle. "Her getting the distance wasn't a great surprise. I was more surprised she was able to win at 5 1/2."
The dark bay or brown filly was bred by Dark Hollow Farm out of the Dixie Union mare Memories of Mystic, and was a $21,000 purchase from the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2011 Eastern fall yearling sale.