A class drop proved successful in getting multiple grade I winner Stopchargingmaria back into the winner's circle when the mare lived up to her 3-5 odds to win the Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO).
The DuPont, at 1 1/8 miles, was the 10th race on the May 15 card at Pimlico Race Course highlighted by the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. III).
After stumbling at the start, Stopchargingmaria was patiently handled by jockey John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher, Stopchargingmaria was settled into sixth early as Yahilwa led the field through quick early fractions of :46.53 and 1:11.25 while closely stalked by longshot Brenda's Way. Stopchargingmaria steadily moved rounding the second turn while racing in the middle of the track, was in contention at the top of the stretch, and moved between horses to kick clear.
The 4-year-old daughter of Tale of the Cat continued to make up ground and had the lead in midstretch, drawing off from Yahilwa to win by four lengths. It was a neck back to Joint Return, with Blue Violet fourth.
Final time was 1:50.38 over a fast track.
The winner paid $3.20, $2.20, and $2.20, with Yahilwa returning $3.80 and $3.80. Joint Return paid $5.60.
The DuPont Distaff marked the first victory for Stopchargingmaria since her win in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course, which was preceded by victories in the Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) at Pimlico and Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I). She was coming off second-place finishes in the Beldame Invitational Stakes (gr. I) last September at Belmont Park and the Madison Stakes (gr. I) April 4 at Keeneland in her 2015 debut for Town and Country Stables.
Previously raced by breeder Mike Repole's Repole Stable, Stopchargingmaria has seven wins, two seconds, and one third in 13 starts and earned $1,654,000.
Stopchargingmaria was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency as a racing/broodmare prospect to last year's Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale, where she was bought back at $3.15 million.
Pletcher said a really good work by Stopchargingmaria at Belmont Park last week signaled her readiness for the DuPont, her second start in more than eight months.
"It was as good as I had ever seen her," the trainer said. "She got away bad and I was a little worried, but when I saw the fractions, I figured we would be OK. I'm not sure what's next."
"I wasn't exactly where I wanted to be," Velazquez said. "She stumbled a bit coming out of there. Once we cleared everyone, it was pretty easy."
Trainer Jim Cassidy was pleased with Yahilwa's effort, noting "She's got a heart of gold. She tries every time. It's a shame we had to get into such a (speed duel), but the last time, she stumbled leaving there, so we didn't have to worry it too much. This time, she broke really good. There's no sense in fighting her. She ran great."