Don’t tell Proud Spell’s owner and breeder, Brereton C. Jones, that his bay filly isn’t tough. Even though the daughter of Proud Citizen lacks size, Jones has seen plenty of evidence that she’s one of the grittiest runners on the track today.
“No horse has ever passed her in the stretch during her entire racing career, and that’s a big statement when you’ve been running against the best fillies in America,” Jones.
Proud Spell, who is “almost 15.3 hands” tall, based on Jones’ estimate, has never finished worse than third in 12 career races. She captured four of her eight outings during her 2008 campaign and earned $1,514,849. Her best efforts, according to Jones, came in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and the Alabama Stakes (gr. I).
“I think by winning the Oaks, Proud Spell showed she belonged with the best,” Jones said, “and then by winning the Alabama at a mile-and-a-quarter, she showed she was the best.”
In the 1 1/8-mile Oaks, Proud Spell surged to the lead when the field straightened for home and cruised to the wire, defeating grade I winner Little Belle by five lengths. In the Albamaa, Proud Spell and her regular jockey, Gabriel Saez, stalked Little Belle before charging past the pacesetter just outside the quarter-pole.
Then, when Little Belle’s stablemate, Music Note, ranged up alongside, Proud Spell dug in and raced as a team with that rival into deep stretch before sticking her head in front in the final 50 yards and maintaining that slight advantage to the wire.
“Her (Proud Spell’s) performance was just so gutty,” Jones said.