06/16/2012 5:06PM

Delaware: Love and Pride strengthens Delaware Handicap credentials by taking Obeah

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Love and Pride, ridden by Jeremy Rose, takes the Grade 3 Obeah by 1 3/4 lengths.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has saddled three of the last six winners of the Delaware Handicap and figures to have another prominent contender for this year’s running of Delaware Park’s most prestigious race after his filly Love and Pride scored a front-running victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Obeah Stakes.

The Grade 3 Obeah, contested at 1 1/8 miles, was the local prep for the Grade 2, $750,000 Del Cap on July 21. Pletcher won back-to-back Delaware Handicaps in 2006 with Fleet Indian and 2007 with Unbridled Belle, and then took the 2010 running with Life At Ten.

Love and Pride ($4.20) earned the first graded win of her 13-race career when she broke cleanly from the rail under Jeremy Rose and opened up a 1 1/2-length lead down the backstretch while posting fractions of 47.71 seconds and 1:11.75.

Tiz Miz Sue, the 4-5 favorite on the basis of her 4 wins and 1 second in 5 previous starts locally, went after the leader in the stretch under Joe Rocco Jr. and got within a length with a furlong remaining, but Love and Pride had plenty of energy in reserve and pulled away to win by 1 3/4 lengths while completing the nine furlongs in 1:49.91.

"She was awesome,” Rose sid.  “She has one heck of a cruising gear.  She went kind of quick, but she had a lot left.  I am not sure who is coming for the Del Cap, but I think today she showed she is worthy of consideration.”

Tiz Miz Sue, winner of the Grade 3 Azeri in March, was nine lengths clear of third-place Check Point in a field reduced to five by the scratch of morning-line favorite Pachattack.

Steve Hobby, the trainer of second-place Tiz Miz Sue, still has the Delaware Handicap in his sights.

“When you’re alone on the lead, you’re tough. Especially a good horse like that,” Hobby said of Love and Pride.

“We’ll see who’s coming,” Hobby said in regards to the Delaware Handicap. “That will be the plan, but we’ll see who’s coming. … Hopefully this prep will set her up for the Del Cap.”

Love and Pride, a 4-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy owned by Green Hills Farm, is now 5 for 13 lifetime. She barely missed winning a graded race last time out when she was beaten a head in the Grade 3 Allaire Du Pont Distaff on the Preakness undercard.