Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton's My Miss Aurelia wrapped up an Eclipse Award-winning campaign last November with a three-length victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Soon after that, though, the bay daughter of Smart Strike was sidelined by a shin injury and wouldn't even be seen on an official worktab until mid-May.
On Wednesday, following 11 moves since her return to training, My Miss Aurelia made her belated three-year-old bow in the $98,00 Mandys Gold Stakes at Saratoga, the same track over which she broke her maiden in July 2011.
Jockey Julian Leparoux was aboard for My Miss Aurelia's racing debut, as well as her next win in the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes, and returned to the filly's saddle for this 6 1/2-furlong main track contest. The champion miss stumbled out the of the gate, but recovered well and immediately began making up ground after finding herself in last. She easily cruised to the front under her own power in the lane and drew off to be three lengths clear on the wire despite lugging in.
"It's great to see her back at the races," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "We wanted to be sure she was OK. She is tremendous. Her ability level is up. Her works this year have been amazing. I think she'll have a huge year.
"We watched her stumble away from there. We've watched races. We watched a 3-5 shot the other day get knocked down with Ramon (Dominguez). Anything can happen. We'll see how she comes back and speak to George (Bolton) and (Stonestreet Stables') Barbara (Banke) and see where we go."
"She didn't hit the ground, like Gunboat did (when sixth in the Grade 2 Amsterdam on July 29)," Bolton remarked. "So (Leparoux) thinks she slipped coming out of there instead of (going) down on her head, which would have been much worse. He thinks she was looking at the stands the whole way down the stretch; that's why he couldn't get her to change leads. That was a nice piece of news from Julien that she was not in some kind of recovery mode, but was feeling good and was curious (about) what was going on."
My Miss Aurelia stopped the clock in 1:15 4/5 for her return to action, paying $2.50, $2.10 and $2.10 as the 1-4 favorite.
"It's amazing how special she truly is," Asmussen added. "The memories of her running last year were great. When she came back into the barn and we starting training her and breezing her...you're hoping to have horses who are who she is. What a joy she is to be around."
Delightful Quality, a 6 3/4-length maiden winner on June 7 at Belmont Park, was best of the rest, 2 1/2 lengths up on third-placer Well Kept. It was another length back to Srumdiddlyumptious while Xunlei completed the order of finish. Ageless and Ullapool were both withdrawn.
"I'm impressed," Banke stated. "She looks like she wanted to get back to the track, and she was looking at the stands the whole time, so I think she's figured it out. The stumble kind of caused me some gray hairs -- which you'll never see, because I'll cover them up -- but she looks great. She's a champion, and she has it in her to do that (recover after stumbling).
"She's a great horse, and we're just happy to have her back. We'll see how she comes out, make sure that nothing amiss happened with the stumble. We'll be checking her from nose to tail and making sure that she is 100 percent. We always like racing at Saratoga, so it would be a nice thing to do if we can get her back here, it might be a little quick, but possibly."
In addition to her maiden, Adirondack and Breeders' Cup wins, My Miss Aurelia also scored in the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes last October. Wednesday's win boosted her scorecard to a perfect five-for-five, and she's now banked $1,440,00 in lifetime earnings.