05/18/2016 10:06AM

Mei Ling has right team behind her for duPont Distaff

Debra Roma
Mei Ling goes into the Allaire duPont Distaff off this victory in the Heavenly Prize at Belmont.

BALTIMORE – Last year, Stopchargingmaria posted her first graded stakes victory of the season in the Grade 3 Allaire duPont Distaff at Pimlico, kick-starting a campaign that would eventually lead her to the winner’s circle following the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

None of the 10 entrants lining up for this year’s edition of the $150,000 duPont Distaff brings in Stopchargingmaria’s credentials; she was already a multiple Grade 1 winner. But the lineup for this 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares is an evenly matched group that could go on to bigger and better.

The morning-line favorite is Mei Ling, who will look to give trainer Todd Pletcher his second consecutive victory in this race. Mei Ling won the Heavenly Prize Stakes in March at Aqueduct by 3 1/4 lengths before finishing second by a half-length in the Grade 3 Top Flight Handicap last month.

“She’s just a real steady, solid show-up-every-time-and-give-you-a-big-effort kind of filly,” Pletcher said. “She’s in good form, and her kind of forward running style should suit Pimlico well.”

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Mei Ling, who will be forwardly placed, drew post 4 under John Velazquez.

Grade 2 winner Ahh Chocolate is one of only two entrants to have competed with distinction in a graded stakes at Pimlico, having finished third in last year’s Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. The other is Joint Return, who finished third in last year’s duPont Distaff behind Stopchargingmaria, beaten just a neck by Yahilwa for second.

The consistent Ahh Chocolate comes into her return engagement at Pimlico off a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland.

Engaginglee, trained by Dale Romans, turned in a career-best performance two weeks ago when second to Curalina in the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Key contenders

Mei Ling, by Empire Maker

Last 3 Beyers: 87-94-79

◗ Her Beyer Speed Figure of 94 in a stakes victory two starts back is the field’s top number this year.

◗ Carrumba, who narrowly defeated her in the Top Flight, came back to run second in the Grade 2 Ruffian recently.

◗ Pletcher and Velazquez have each won the duPont Distaff three times; a victory with Mei Ling would give each the record in this race in his respective category.

Engaginglee, by Fusaichi Pegasus

Last 3 Beyers: 89-87-80

◗ Matched her career-high Beyer in the La Troienne, which was just her second start in a graded stakes; she was third in the Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes.

Ahh Chocolate, by Candy Ride

Last 3 Beyers: 88-86-91

◗ Consistent filly has five stakes wins or placings and has only once missed the board in dirt races at a mile or longer.

◗ Brian Hernandez Jr. has the mount for trainer Neil Howard.

Savings Account, by Medaglia d’Oro

Last 3 Beyers: 90-89-77

◗ She is one of just two members of the field with a triple-digit Beyer, a 101. The other is Super Majesty, who matched that figure.

◗ Grade 1-placed mare comes off a win in the Esplanade Stakes at Fair Grounds, defeating Ahh Chocolate.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 1 Theogony. Trainer Mark Casse is 16-5-2-0 with a $4.55 ROI over the past two years in dirt routes in the third start following a layoff of 45 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 9 Super Majesty. Trainer Steve Asmussen is 20-5-2-3 with a $2.52 ROI over the past five years going sprint to route on dirt in graded stakes. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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