07/11/2013 1:12PM

Delaware Park: Tell a Great Story a filly on the rise in Delaware Oaks


Upon her birth at Sagamore Farm in Maryland, Tell a Great Story was referred to as a “dummy foal” because she didn’t know how to suckle her mother and lacked normal reflexes. She has been anything but a slow learner on the racetrack, however.

After surviving a potentially life-threatening situation, in which she also had trouble breathing, Tell a Great Story won her career debut, just missed in her first try going two turns, and scored by the slimmest of margins in her stakes debut.

Tell a Great Story looks to take the next step forward when she makes her first graded stakes appearance in Saturday’s $300,000 Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park.

The Grade 2 Oaks, at 1 1/16 miles, headlines a card that includes the Grade 3, $200,000 Robert Dick Memorial for fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on turf.

Tell a Great Story’s handlers weren’t sure she would survive on April 5, 2010, when she was born as a tiny foal and was initially unable to either breathe normally or feed. She received tender loving care that included hand-feeding and was nursed back to health.

Unraced as a 2-year-old, Tell a Great Story scored in her first start, sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Laurel Park on Jan. 30, and was outfinished by a head when sent two turns for the first time in her third career race on April 12 at Pimlico. Two starts later, Tell a Great Story got up by a nose in the Go for Wand at Delaware Park over Ile St. Molly, one of the eight 3-year-old fillies she will face Saturday.

“She has been getting better with every race, and I think that is because she is becoming more mature and focused,” trainer Ignacio Correas IV said. “This is going to be a big step up for her though. When you run for this kind of money with these stakes, it is never easy, so we are also looking at this as a chance to see where we are at with this filly.”

Ile St. Molly, a two-time stakes winner, will try to turn the tables on Tell a Great Story while racing beyond a mile and 70 yards for the first time.

“I think she is going to run really well and I do not think the mile and a sixteenth will bother her one bit,” trainer Kenny Smith said. “In the Go for Wand, both of those fillies finished awful strong with a pretty fast final quarter.”

Although Ile St. Molly (post 8) and Tell a Great Story (post 9) are drawn far outside, posts 8-9 are a combined 4 for 20 (20 percent) in dirt routes so far this meet.

The most dangerous newcomer to Delaware in the Oaks lineup may be Maracuya. Based at Saratoga with trainer Ralph Nicks, Maracuya won her first two career starts at Gulfstream Park in March. In her only subsequent start, Maracuya set a pressured pace and faded badly to fourth in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on May 17.

Dancing Afleet and Makayla’s Angel are both 2 for 2 at Delaware’s meet and are stepping up to stakes company for the first time. Their trainers, Tim Ritchey and Graham Motion, are both previous winners of the Oaks. Ritchey’s filly Mooncatcher won the 2007 edition. The Motion-trained Sincerely won the 2000 Oaks.