Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables LLC and Gary Aisquith's Belle Gallantey took command of Saturday's Grade 1, $750,125 Delaware Handicap out of the gate and never looked back en route to a 2 3/4-length win under jockey Jose Oritz. The Rudy Rodriguez-trained daughter of After Market repelled a challenge from prohibitive 1-5 favorite Princess of Sylmar rounding the turn and finished 1 1/4 miles over the fast track in 2:01.
"The pace set up very well for us today," Ortiz stated. "We just kind of went slow and easy."
Flashy American stalked to Belle Gallantey's outside as the leader established fractions of :24 2/5, :49 2/5 and 1:13 3/5. Princess of Sylmar, a notorious late runner, found herself sandwiched between Bryan's Jewel on the rail and Molly Morgan to her outside on the backstretch just behind the top two. Entering the final turn, the multiple Grade 1 heroine kicked into overdrive and attempted to split Belle Gallantey and Flashy American but appeared to flatten out.
As Belle Gallantey drew off from Flashy American in the lane, Princess of Sylmar put in one more run but just could not catch the winner while a half-length clear of Flashy American on the wire. It was another 2 3/4 lengths back to Gamay Noir while Molly Morgan and Bryan's Jewel brought up the rear.
Trainer Todd Pletcher did not have an excuse for Princess Sylmar.
"One of my concerns was not having a true pace scenario developing, which is legitimate, but we have no excuses," he said.
"I don't think the track bothered her and there was no humidity so it was a great day," added Ed Stanco primary owner of Princess Sylmar. "My own view -- and I haven't talked to Todd about it -- I thought that over on that far turn she had the opportunity to go through and just didn't, and that happens. That's the part I was surprised about but what can you do? That's racing. And then she started to come on again but the race was over at that time."
Belle Gallantey paid $15.60 as the 6-1 second choice in the field, and improved her record to 41-8-12-7 while more than doubling her lifetime earnings to $866,270 in the 77th renewal of the Delaware 'Cap. This was only the third stakes try for the five-year-old mare, following a third in the Fantasy Stakes at Hastings in 2011 and a close fifth in the Ogden Phipps Stakes last out at Belmont Park. The former claimer has passed through multiple hands and barns in the interim.
Rodriguez attributes running Belle Gallantey in longer races and getting her to relax as the key to her recent success.
"She was very nervous and she still is a little nervous, but we have tried to make she relaxes and gets comfortable," Rodriguez said. "I have been galloping and she is doing much better. She had been running short and she got a very good number. We started her going long and she just kept getting better and better. Last time, in the Ogden Phipps, she showed she belonged with this kind and that made it easy for us run in the Delaware Handicap."
Bred in Kentucky by Pam and Martin Wygod, Belle Gallantey sold for $10,000 as a Keeneland September yearling in 2010 and then $30,000 at the 2011 Pegasus Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. She is out of the winning Old Trieste mare Revealed, making her third dam champion and multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Meadow Star.