She is a very interesting racehorse with a most interesting name, and if you like Blind Luck to win the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) Nov. 5, you should also probably have an eye out for Havre de Grace, who has been getting up close and personal with Blind Luck since they first tussled back in July.
Havre de Grace, French for Harbor of Grace, was named by her owner, Rick Porter, after a famous racetrack near Porter’s base in Harford County, Md. Havre de Grace Racetrack was open for business from 1912-1950, and saw such greats as Man o’War, War Admiral, Seabiscuit, and Equipoise win races over its oval. The track was at one time owned by the notorious gambler Arnold Rothstein.
Porter, who races as Fox Hill Farms, is gambling that Havre de Grace continues to run in the top form she has displayed throughout this, her 3-year-old season, in which she has won two of five races and finished second three times. Two of those defeats were to Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Blind Luck by a nose and a neck, in the Delaware Oaks (gr. II) and Alabama Stakes (gr. I), respectively. Havre de Grace, with a 10-pound break in the weights, defeated Blind Luck in their most recent tussle, the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes (gr. II) Oct. 2.
"We have some rivalry going," stated Porter, who won the Ladies’ Classic when it was called the Distaff with Round Pond in 2006, the last time the World Championships were run at Churchill Downs. "Personally, I think the 3-year-olds are the best fillies in the race. Blind Luck should be the favorite and I’d guess we’d be the second favorite if they go by the numbers.
"Our problem is when our horse gets past everything and is in the clear she tends to relax and get lazy and play around. In the Breeders’ Cup, I think she’ll have a lot more to look at and run down. She is a horse who will do whatever you ask her to do. She’s a very nice filly who’s lightly raced and is still getting better."
Porter and bloodstock agent Tom McGreevy were both smitten with the daughter of Saint Liam at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale, bringing her home for $380,000 from the consignment of Mill Ridge Sales, agent.
"We actually liked three or four Saint Liam fillies in that sale," said Porter, "but we liked her the best. At $380,000, we were about at the end of our bidding. But we fell in love with her. She reminds me of the good ones like Hard Spun (whom Porter also raced)—when they work they surprise you because they look like they’re doing it so easy and seem like they’re going slow, but they’re not."
Le Havre is a city in northwest France that is that country’s largest deep water ocean port. Ironically, Porter owns an offspring out of a mare named Harve de Grace, a name that was likely misspelled.
"Normally, you’d think the name was too close where The Jockey Club wouldn’t have given us Havre de Grace, but they did. All the announcers are pronouncing it their own way, but I don’t care, as long as they’re calling her name at the end of the race."