01/08/2012 6:12PM

Gulfstream: Camera can't separate Delightful Mary, R Holiday Mood in Ocala

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Bob Coglianese
Delightful Mary (3) and R Holiday Mood (hidden on rail) hit the wire together in the Ocala.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.-  One day after Gulfstream Park’s photo-finish camera just barely separated the top two finishers in the Marshua’s River Stakes it found nothing to choose between Delightful Mary and R Holiday Mood, who dead-heated for first in Sunday’s $60,000 Ocala Stakes.

R Holiday Mood turned in a game effort, setting the pace from what appeared the deeper going near the rail and withstanding a near stretch-long bid from the 4-5 All Due Respect before hanging on to finish on even terms with Delightful Mary. Delightful Mary raced well-placed just off the leaders, angled out for clearance near the eighth pole, and appeared to get up in the final stride, only to  settle for a dead heat.

All Due Respect forced the pace from the outset and gave way grudgingly in late stretch to finish another length farther back in third.

“I thought she’d gotten up,” said Mark Casse who trains Delightful Mary for owner John Oxley. “I don’t think she saw that other horse down there on the inside.”

 “When they crossed the wire I thought she got beat,” said R Holiday’s Mood’s trainer, Todd Pletcher. “We got half-lucky anyway.”   

The Ocala, which was restricted to Florida-bred fillies and mares, was just the second start over dirt for Delightful Mary. The first resulted in a third-place finish in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

“It’s not an easy transition from Polytrack to dirt and I still haven’t figured it out,” said Casse. “But she worked well at Churchill Downs before the Breeders’ Cup and I did work her three times at Palm Meadows so I was confident she would handle it well.”

R Holiday Mood was making her first start since June in the one-mile Ocala.

“I was really proud of her effort,” said Pletcher. “I was concerned she wasn’t ready to go a mile. I had her entered in an allowance race," referring to a six-furlong race on Dec. 24, “but she tied up the day before and I had to scratch her. She ran awfully hard today so I might not come back with her in the Sunshine Millions Sprint.”

Delightful Mary returned $7.40 to win while R Holiday Mood paid $12.40. The pair completed a mile in 1:37.25 over the fast track.