07/23/2017 9:50PM

Madam Dancealot surprises with last-to-first rally in San Clemente

Benoit & Associates
Madam Dancealot stunned her connections with 1 3/4-length victory in the one-mile San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar on July 23, 2017.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Nick Cosato has made a living at the track as a jockey agent and a bettor, but he has really found his niche managing Slam Dunk Racing, a partnership that scored a surprising victory on Sunday at Del Mar when the 21-1 shot Madam Dancealot rallied from last to first to win the Grade 2, $201,035 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies.

No one was more surprised than Cosato, who pooh-poohed the confidence of those who toil around the filly every day. He believed she was best as a sprinter, and her prior form certainly looked that way.

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But Madam Dancealot ($44.40) responded to being dragged back to last by jockey Jamie Theriot, and she produced a stirring stretch run to roar past her seven rivals, including the previously unbeaten Sircat Sally, to win the one-mile grass race going away by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:34.75 on firm turf.

Lull, who led from the start until deep stretch, held on for second, a half-length in front of Sircat Sally, who finished third and emerged from the race with an injury that may end her racing career.

Sircat Sally, favored at 7-5, had won all seven of her prior starts by racing on or near the lead, but she was out-footed early in this race, never really kicked in, and then was pulled up on the backstretch after the race by jockey Drayden Van Dyke. He dismounted, and Sircat Sally was put into the horse ambulance and taken back to the barn of trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. She was standing on all fours and walked onto the van.

X-rays taken at the barn showed a fracture of the inside sesamoid of her left front ankle. Whether she needs surgery was to be determined, but considering she’s a three-time graded stakes winner the injury is likely career-ending.

Madam Dancealot gave Theriot his first stakes winner at Del Mar. The filly’s trainer, Richard Baltas, said getting Madam Dancealot to relax early was pivotal.

“She’s settled now. She’s relaxed,” he said. “I know she can run, and when a good horse gets settled like that they are going to run at the end, and she did.”

Cosato was stunned.

“Talk about shock. I’ve got to watch that again,” he said in the winner’s circle. “The crew said she’d get a mile. I didn’t believe them. She’s a completely changed filly.

“We were going to run her earlier in the meet in a turf sprint. It didn’t go, so we were forced into this spot. Better to be lucky than good.”

Madam Dancealot was acquired in her native Ireland – where she won twice in six starts last year – and brought here for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, in which she finished 13th of 14. She had won once in four starts this year, in a downhill turf sprint at Santa Anita on May 14.

Madam Dancealot, by Sir Prancealot, has now won four times in 12 starts.