Fleet Indian's victory in the 1 1/4-mile Delaware Handicap (gr. II) was so easy it was hard to believe the field was running for $1 million Sunday at Delaware Park. Ridden by Jose Santos for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Paul H. Saylor, the brilliant 5-year-old mare galloped to her sixth straight triumph and went over the $1 million earnings mark.
"It was pretty much a piece of cake," said Santos. "I pretty much knew the race was over going into the first turn. I still rode it like always to make it official. I think she is going to be a perfect 10 before she is done."
Pletcher had a decent weekend at Delaware Park, also taking the $500,000 Delaware Oaks (gr. II) and the $300,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial Breeders' Cup on Saturday.
"She had a pretty good race record before we got her," said Pletcher. "She had won her last two starts before we got her. Jose has come along with his mare very well. He knows her well."
Santos said the win came at the right time for him.
"There are not many million dollar races and not many jockeys win races like that," Santos said. "It is a great thrill to win a race like this especially for a guy like me whose business may be going down a little bit. Something like this will pick my business up a little bit."
Breaking from the inside in a field of nine, the New York-bred daughter of Indian Charlie
got away in good order as the 2-5 favorite, secured the lead from Take a Check, and led the field throughout while lengthening her advantage at every call. The fractions were remarkably even – :23 4/5, :48 1/5, 1:12 2/5 and 1:37. She came home under a hand ride in 2:02 while winning by 5 1/2 lengths.
"It looked on paper like we could control the speed and not have to alter her style of running" Pletcher said. "Once she left the first turn, she was in control."
Pletcher took over the training of Fleet Indian in March. She won in succession the Next Move Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct, the Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne, and the Obeah Handicap --in which she easily handled several of Sunday's rivals by 7 3/4 lengths-- June 17 over the Delaware main track. She began her streak in November over state breds for trainer James Toner, then won a Philadelphia Park allowance for Clifford Sise.
Fleet Indian earned $600,000 for her 11th win in 16 starts and has now banked $1,104,513.
She carried top weight of 120 pounds, spotting each of her rivals from four to six pounds.
The three-horse Fitzhugh LLC-owned entry – Dynamic Deputy (Luis Garcia), Take a Check (Mario Pino), and Sticky (Jose Velez Jr.) – ran second, third and fourth, respectively. Richard Small trains all three, who earned a total of $370,000. Dynamic Deputy was 1 3/4 lengths in front of Take a Check, who stalked the winner for six furlongs, with Sticky another half-length behind.
Friel's for Real, La Reason, Carmandia, and Fin followed. Gallant Secret broke down on the backstretch.
Outsider Grant's Moon was scratched on the way to the starting gate.
Fleet Indian paid $2.80, $2.20, and $2.10. The entry returned $3.60 and $4.
Thomas/Lakin bred the winner, who is out of the Afleet mare Hustleeta.