07/08/2005 11:00PM

Acey Deucey surprises in Prioress

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Acey Deucey, with Diane Nelson aboard, surges past Maddalena to win the Prioress by a half-length. The victory was Nelson's first in a Grade 1.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Diane Nelson wouldn't have been surprised if she had been replaced aboard Acey Deucey in Saturday's Grade 1 for 3-year-old fillies.

Nelson's business had declined to the point where she had just 16 mounts at this meet and 63 for the entire year. But owner Jeffrey Tucker and trainer John Morrison believe Nelson fits Acey Deucey best, and Saturday they were proven right.

With Nelson in the irons, Acey Deucey rallied from off the pace to run down Maddalena in deep stretch and win the $250,000 Prioress by a half-length before 6,880 at Belmont Park. Maddalena, part of the early pace, settled for second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of entrymate Sense of Style. It was another 2 3/4 lengths back to Talented, the 8-5 favorite. R Fast Lady, Slew Motion, and Burnish completed the order of finish.

It was the first Grade 1 victory for the 39-year-old Nelson, who had ridden 9,778 previous mounts in a career that began in 1986.

"I can't say enough how grateful I am to John and Jeffrey for sticking with me," Nelson said. "I think we all know in most situations like this I would have been off a long time ago. Not because of anything I did, because you get to this level and they want somebody who's riding every day.

"A lot of people think my career's over - it's not over," Nelson added. "I just need good horses. I can do it if I have good horses."

Tucker and Morrison purchased Acey Deucey after her second start. Nelson had ridden Acey Deucey in those starts for trainer Bob Klesaris. The decision was made to keep Nelson on the filly. In six starts for her new connections, Acey Deucey has four wins, including the Grade 2 Comely and the Dearly Precious.

"I think she gets more run out of her than anybody else would, to be honest with you," said Morrison, who also won his first Grade 1. "If you put another jock on her, I think she'd lay a little too close and she wouldn't punch as well."

Acey Deucey was only three lengths off the pace after a half-mile run in 45.72 seconds. Maddalena, part of that pace, put away Slew Motion and appeared in good position at the eighth pole. Inside the eighth pole, Nelson got Acey Deucey outside of Maddalena and she swept by that rival late.

Acey Deucey, a New York-bred daughter of Abaginone, covered six furlongs in 1:10.37 and returned $28.60.