07/12/2014 6:06PM

Belle Gallantey upsets Princess of Sylmar in Delaware Handicap

Saquan Stimpson/Hoofprintsinc.com
Jose Ortiz celebrates after Belle Gallantey posted an upset win in the Delaware Handicap.

STANTON, Del. - Princess of Sylmar had to settle for second as the 1-5 favorite in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Delaware Handicap as Belle Gallantey went to the lead, set a slow pace over a glib track, and then came home quickly to complete a Cinderella victory for trainer Rudy Rodriguez.

Belle Gallantey was on the muscle in the paddock prior to the 1 1/4-mile Del Cap and Rudy Rodriguez asked a pony boy to help him saddle. When the gate for the Del Cap opened, Jose Ortiz made sure he made the lead with Belle Gallantey - a $35,000 claim six starts ago - and set comfortable spilts of 24.55, 49.51, and 1:13.63.

"She relaxed real good for me to the three-eighths pole," Ortiz said. "She had her ears up and was going very easy."

Belle Gallantey turned back a bid from Flashy American at the quarter pole, with Princess of Sylmar in close proximity, and then drew off again to win by 2 3/4 lengths.

The mile split was 1:37.44 and the final time was 2:01.15, meaning the split from six furlongs to a mile was 23.81 and the final quarter went in 23.71.

Princess of Sylmar was relaxed racing off the early pace. Jockey Javier Castellano moved her up between horses nearing the backstretch and she responded when he asked her approaching the far turn. When Flashy American challenged Belle Gallantey coming to the quarter pole Princess of Sylmar could not quite keep up with them. Castellano guided her to the outside for the stretch run and she was up to gain the place by a half-length outside Flashy American late.

"I was a bit concerned that we might not get a true pace today," said Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Princess of Sylmar. "The track here was fast today and the fractions, I guess they were reasonable. I really don't have any excuses."

Belle Gallantey paid $15.60 to win as the second choice in the six-horse field. The $1 exacta with Belle Gallantey and Princess of Sylmar returned $19.60.

Rodriguez claimed Belle Gallantey for $35,000 out of a sprint at Aqueduct last December. He stretched her out in distance and she won a first-level allowance, a $12,500 starter, and a second-level optional claimer. Rodriguez tried her in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on Belmont Stakes Day and she finished fifth, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, by Close Hatches. Princess of Sylmar was second in the Phipps, beaten a head.

"When the overnight came out  it looked like we were the speed," Rodriguez said. "She just keeps getting better and better."

The win was the eighth from 41 career starts for Belle Gallantey, a 5-year-old. The $450,000 she earned Saturday more than doubled her career earnings to $866,270. The win was the second Grade 1 for Rodriguez, who in April won the Carter Handicap with Dads Caps.

In the winner's circle after the race, Michael Caruso, a part-owner, said the plan prior to the race was to send Belle Gallantey to Fair Hill and give her a rest. After a second, he hedged a little. "But let's wait and see what Rudy says," he offered with a laugh.

* The all-sources handle on the Delaware Handicap card was $4.02 million, which pleased track officials. The all-time Delaware Handicap Day handle was $4.9 million set in 2007.