05/12/2012 5:19PM

Delaware: Dutrow's backup North Freeway cruises in Winter Melody


Trainer Tony Dutrow scratched Bahama Bound, the 8-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s opening-day feature at Delaware Park, the $50,000 Winter Melody Stakes, but backup North Freeway still got the job done for the stable.

North Freeway, a 4-year-old filly claimed for $35,000 in December, stretched out beyond six furlongs for the first time since last August and cruised to a front-running victory in the 1 1/16-mile Winter Melody, the first local prep for fillies and mares on the road to the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap.

Breaking from post 4 in a field of five under Jose Caraballo, North Freeway ($4.80) had no trouble gaining the lead and hugged the rail while setting soft fractions of 48.81 and 1:12.25. She was three lengths in front turning for home and rolled home 4 ¼ lengths in front, completing the distance in 1:44.86.

A daughter of Jump Star owned by Michael Dubb, North Freeway has now won three in a row since she was claimed and 8 of 20 overall.

"The early fractions were very kind, she had an easy way, she relaxed well, and she responded in the stretch,” said Dutrow, who said he followed Dubb's advice on putting in a claim for North Freeway.

“Michael called me before we claimed her and told me “There is a filly in today who is getting better,' so he deserves all the credit.  She started in New York and she has been in Delaware since the first of April, so there are a lot of people who have worked very hard to get her where she is today."

Dutrow said there is a good possibility North Freeway will be pointed to the Obeah Stakes on June 16.

Brushed by Love, winner of last fall’s Maryland Million Oaks nosed out Charles Town shipper Bahia Beach for second. She Be Classy, the 3-2 second choice off her 3-for-4 record locally that included a win in last year’s off-the-turf John Rooney Memorial, finished fourth.