06/11/2011 5:57PM

Delaware Park: Havre de Grace cruises home in Obeah

Hoofprints Inc.
Gabriel Saez guides Havre de Grace to her third straight graded stakes victory this season in the Grade 3 Obeah.

Havre de Grace confirmed her status as the solid favorite for next month’s Delaware Handicap with an effortless 2 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3, $168,000 Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park.

Now a four-time graded stakes winner who was making her first start since taking the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park in mid-April, Havre de Grace ($2.40) owned a substantial class advantage over her four rivals in the 1 1/8-mile Obeah who collectively owned just two wins in overnight stakes, both by Tiz Miz Sue.

Jockey Gabriel Saez allowed the 4-year-old Havre de Grace to sit patiently about two lengths behind Tiz Miz Sue through the first six furlongs in 1:12.72. Havre de Grace then went up to challenge and easily made the lead and was basically hand-ridden through the stretch while completing the nine furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.87.

In winning for the sixth time in 11 starts, Havre de Grace, a daughter of Saint Liam owned by Fox Hill Farms and trained by Larry Jones, collected her third straight graded stakes this season.

“Her effort today was what we were looking for and wanting to get before the Delaware Handicap,” said Jones, who won the Delaware Handicap in 2005 with Island Sand. “We wanted to have a trip over the track, that way no one could have an advantage on us. Going into the Delaware Handicap we not only want to think we have the best horse, we want to make sure we have taken the best path we can take.

"Needless to say, the horses she beat today are good horses and they made her get something out of this race," he added. "The race is going to surely tighten her up. This will have Havre de Grace at her very best. Hopefully, it will pay off and I can get my second Delaware Handicap”

The Delaware Handicap, a Grade 2 race worth $750,000, will be contested at 1 1/4 miles on July 16.

Tiz Miz Sue, who had been 4 for 4 at Delaware, was game through the stretch to easily take second, 4 3/4 lengths in front of Sweet N Sour Nina, the 4-1 second choice who was coming off a nose defeat in the Monmouth Beach Stakes. Sweet N Sour Nina, claimed for $50,000 last fall, was 3 3/4 lengths ahead of the fourth-place finisher, Sarah’s Song.