01/06/2011 6:17PM

2010 Eclipse Awards: Havre de Grace

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo

In nearly every 3-year-old crop, colts or fillies, there seems to be the late bloomer who makes a major impact in his or her division. In 2010, Havre de Grace clearly fit that description by bursting onto the scene in the middle of the year and continuing to deliver impressive performances.

Owned by the Fox Hill Farms of Rick Porter, Havre de Grace had two starts at 2, ending with an easy maiden victory at her home track, Delaware Park, before trainer Tony Dutrow called it a year. It wasn’t until May 10 that she returned to action with a 1 1/4-length victory in a first-level allowance route at Parx Racing in Philadelphia. Dutrow then tested her for the first time against stakes fillies, and Havre de Grace barely came up short when she was beaten a neck by the more seasoned No Such Word in the June 5 Go for Wand Stakes at Delaware. It was in her next race, however, that Havre de Grace really began showing signs of becoming a force within the 3-year-old filly division. Sent away at 6-1 in the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks, she surged to the lead in deep stretch, only to be nipped by a nose by Blind Luck.

The blossoming rivalry with Blind Luck picked up further momentum in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes on Aug. 21 at Saratoga. Havre de Grace was 7-1 in a field of six, with Devil May Care an odds-on favorite and Blind Luck the 9-5 second choice. Down the stretch, Havre de Grace began edging away, with Devil May Care among those in her wake, but a final surge by Blind Luck beat her by a neck.

“Things went fantastic for us and our filly stepped up to the plate and proved to everyone what she’s capable of,” Dutrow said afterward.

The rivalry resumed in the Grade 2 Cotillion on Oct. 2 at Parx Racing, and this time the outcome fell in favor of Havre de Grace. Blind Luck the 7-10 choice, trailed much of the way in the field of five and just wasn’t able to get to Havre de Grace, a 6-5 shot who had stalked the pace before opening a 3 1/2-length lead at the eighth pole before holding on to win by a neck.

“It’s been a summer of excitement with these two,” said Dutrow. “We’re so thrilled with this victory.”

A fourth meeting loomed for Havre de Grace and Blind Luck in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs. In the days approaching the race, Dutrow said he was proud of the rivalry that had developed.

“They’re two really, really good fillies in any year,” he said. “I’m really excited to watch Havre de Grace take her on once again.”

Havre de Grace ended her season by turning in a creditable effort in the Ladies’ Classic by finishing third, beaten 2 3/4 lengths, behind the victorious Unrivaled Belle and the late-closing Blind Luck.

Havre de Grace is by Saint Liam out of Easter Bunnette, by Carson City. She was bred in Kentucky by Nancy Dillman and was purchased by Porter for $300,000 as a yearling at Keeneland. Jeremy Rose was her regular rider. She earned $839,450 on the year.

Plans for 2011 call for Havre de Grace to winter at Oaklawn Park with trainer Larry Jones, who recently emerged from retirement. She has the Grade 1 Apple Blossom as her first major goal as a 4-year-old.

PAST PERFORMANCES: Havre de Grace's 2010 season PPs (PDF)

KEY RACE REPLAY: Fitz Dixon Cotillion at Parx Racing >>