06/14/2017 6:31PM

Journey Home by a neck in Christiana Stakes


Canny set the pace in the $50,000 Christiana Stakes at Delaware Park on Wednesday. Journey Home was unhurried while lagging well back in last. They came together at the finish of the 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies, with Journey Home getting up in deep stretch to win by a neck.

Journey Home, a daughter of War Front owned by Sam-Son Farm, is trained by Graham Motion, who had two horses in the seven-horse field. His other starter, Dancing Rags, ran for purse money only after having been erroneously scratched by the stewards Wednesday morning.

Canny ran a sharp race but just missed under jockey Mitchell Murrill. She turned back an early bid by Dancing Rags, held off several challengers on the far turn, including Warrior Hall, and then continued well in the stretch. It was 1 3/4 lengths back from her to third-place finisher Bertranda, who ran an unusual race.

Placed in midpack along the inner rail early, Bertranda dropped back on the far turn and found herself in last when Journey Home began her bid. She stayed to the rail in the stretch, passing four rivals.

Journey Home was unhurried early by jockey Edgar Prado while spotting her rivals a good bit of ground. She hit her best stride in the stretch and finished fast to win the second turf stakes of her career. In her prior start, she finished eighth in the Grade 3 Edgewood over “good” turf at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day.

"I think I have run her in some pretty tough spots, and the last time I ran her, the ground was a little soft, and I do not think she handled it very well," Motion said. "She is a pretty nice horse, and I really wanted to get her back on track."

Journey Home paid $7.40 and was timed in 1:43.12 after Canny cut out controlled fractions of 24.23 seconds, 48.72, and 1:12.83. Journey Home is now 3 for 6 in her career with earnings of $119,397. Her prior stakes win came in the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante at Del Mar last November.

Emphatically, the 2-1 favorite who finished fourth, was pulled up on the backstretch following the race and vanned from the course.

Initiate, the second choice at 2-1, was outfinished in the stretch and ended up fifth.

The Christiana was the second win on the card for Motion and Prado, who teamed up to win race 6 by a nose with Boreale, a French import who was privately purchased by West Point Thoroughbreds.

Boreale won a head bob over Enchanteresse after a heated battle through the final furlong. Both horses ran well and merit attention in their next starts.

Dancing Rags ran for purse money only after an unknown caller contacted the stewards the morning of the race and scratched her.

Dancing Rags was cross-entered in the Christiana and the Light Hearted Stakes at Delaware on Thursday. Motion said nobody on his staff scratched Dancing Rags from either race.

"We found out about this when my people arrived with the horse at the stable gate and were told she was scratched," Motion said.

According to John Wayne, the executive director of the Delaware Racing Commission, the track stewards received a phone call, which they thought was from the racing office, scratching Dancing Rags.

John Mooney, the executive director of racing at Delaware Park, said he was told that Dancing Rags was in the receiving barn and that her connections wanted her to run and had not scratched her. Mooney added that nobody on the racing-office staff had called in the scratch to the stewards.

The stewards decided to let the horse compete, according to Mooney, so that the horse's trainer and owner would not be penalized due to the error.

Wayne said the stewards were not certain who had called in the scratch and that rules would be put in place so this situation would not happen again.

"It used to be all scratches were done in writing," he said.