The Malibu Moon filly gave Todd Pletcher his fourth victory in the CCA Oaks, which was run at Saratoga for the first time in its 94-year history. Fresh off her win in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park last out, the bay filly scored for the third time in five starts in 2010. She was ridden to victory by John Velazquez for Glencrest Farm.
Devil May Care was facing a solid field of graded stakes winners in the CCA Oaks, which was shortened to 1 1/8 miles this year. The race did lose a little bit of its luster earlier in the day when co-second choice Connie and Michael and impressive Finger Lakes shipper Lisa's Booby Trap were scratched.
The race went to post with a field of six and longshot Absinthe Minded took the early lead, racing through moderate splits of :24.54 and :48.21. Acting Happy, fresh off her Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) win, Seeking the Title, winner of the Iowa Oaks (gr. III) last out, and Devil May Care were all close to the pace.
As they rounded the far turn Devil May Care inched closer to the lead, taking a four-wide path while still in hand. Velazquez took a peak under his arm just before reaching the straightaway and after a light tap of the stick, Devil May care accelerated past her rivals. She had a one-length advantage at the eighth-pole and was never asked for her best while coasting to a four-length win.
The final time on the fast main track was 1:49.42. Biofuel edged Acting Happy by three-quarters of a length for runner-up with Eurico Rosa Da Silva aboard.
“When I let her go, she was there for me," Velazquez said. "I wanted to have her covered up for a while because she was pulling pretty strong going through the backstretch. Going to the half-mile pole I wanted her to get into a good rhythm and then a nice cruising speed. At the quarter-pole I took another hold of her because I didn’t want to get into the lead too quickly. But she was just dragging me up to that point. I kept her busy down the lane to keep her mind on her business.”
Her other graded win this season coming in the Bonnie Miss (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park, Devil May Care was the lone filly to compete in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 1, where she finished 10th. As a juvenile, she won the grade I Frizette at Belmont.
“You can see by the way that she won today why we tried the Kentucky Derby," said Pletcher. "The thing that I think gets lost in the shuffle a little bit is how much there is left in the tank. When she makes the lead, she tends to wait a little bit, so Johnny rode her perfectly.
"We tried to do the right thing after the Derby and give her plenty of time to the Mother Goose. She rewarded us with a big effort and did the same today. I’ve felt all along that this filly is the best of her generation and if she continues to run like today, I think she’ll prove it. The Alabama (gr. I, Aug. 21) would be the most likely thing. The spacing is good and it’s a good series for her.”
Overall, Devil May Care improved to five wins from eight starts and earnings of $699,000. She was bred in Kentucky by Diamond A Racing and is out of the Red Ransom mare Kelli's Ransom.
Sent off as the 7-10 favorite, the winner paid $3.40, $2.40, and $2.10. The exacta (7-6) returned $13 and the trifecta (7-6-8) was $24.20.
Bahama Bound was fourth, followed by Seeking the Title, and Absinthe Minded.