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Unheralded Unbridled Belle and Ramon Dominguez prevail by 7 3/4 lengths in Delaware romp.
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Jeffrey Snyder

Unbridled Belle Chimes for Pletcher in Del 'Cap

Team Valor's lightly regarded Unbridled Belle romped to victory in Sunday's $1 million Delaware Handicap (gr. II) at Delaware Park.

All of the betting favorites fell apart, leaving Team Valor's lightly regarded Unbridled Belle to pick up the pieces. She drew off smartly under Ramon Dominguez to win the $1 million Delaware Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) for fillies and mares at Delaware Park Sunday.

"It's great to win any big race, but this is home for me. This is special," said Dominguez, who won five races Sunday and rode eight winners over the Delaware Handicap weekend.

Todd Pletcher trains the winner, though he also started the big mare in the field of eight, 9-10 choice Indian Vale. But the favorite came under a ride from John Velazquez on the final turn, trying to keep up with the pacesetting  Peak Maria's Way, and gave way.

Meanwhile, "the other Pletcher" was ideally positioned for the stretch run after a ground-saving trip in the 1 1/4-mile test. The 4-year-old Broken Vow  filly eased off the rail for Dominguez and swept past the tiring Peak Maria's Way in upper stretch. She rolled to victory by 7 3/4 lengths in a strong time of 2:01 on a fast track.

It was the second straight Delaware Handicap victory for Pletcher, and his third overall. 

The Delaware was the first graded stakes win for Unbridled Belle, who was coming off a second-place finish at Delaware in the June 16 Obeah Handicap, where she was two lengths behind Peak Maria's Way in her first start in more than nine months.

Lila Paige, sent off at 56-1 after a third-place finish in the Obeah, rallied best of the rest to gain second by 1 1/4 lengths, with another outsider, Promenade Girl, finishing third by a nose. Peak Maria's Way, who put in solid fractions for the distance of :23 4/5, :47 4/5, 1:11 2/5 and 1:35 4/5, settled for fourth.

Unbridled Belle, now 3-for-4 at Delaware with one second, won the Go For Wand over the strip in May 2006, her last victory. She jumped into grade I company for her next start and was stomped by 23 lengths while sixth in the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) at muddy Belmont Park. Things went slightly better in the Alabama (gr. I) and Gazelle (gr. I) -- she finished fourth each time -- and Unbridled Belle was freshened until returning last month.

The dark bay filly, a $4,000 Keeneland yearling buy in September 2004, improved to 4-2-1 in 11 starts. She earned $600,000 Sunday and has banked $772,840 in her career. Unbridled Belle is out of the Silver Buck mare Little Bold Belle.

The winner carried 115 pounds to victory, six fewer than the top-weighted Asi Siempre and five less than Indian Vale.

Sent off as the fourth choice, Unbridled Belle paid $18.60, $8, and $6.80.

Lila Paige, ridden by Roberto Alvarado Jr. for trainer Bruce Levine, returned $34.80 and $17.80 while rounding out a $383.40 exacta.

Promenade Girl, coming off a third-place showing in the Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont a month ago, was $8.60 to show with Jeremy Rose in the irons for trainer Lawrence Murray.

Peak Maria's Way was a neck better than Indian Vale. It was 10 lengths back to Asi Siempre, followed by Daytime Promise and Ice Cool Kitty. Take a Check scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)