03/12/2009 12:00AM

Proud Spell second in return


Proud Spell, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2008, rallied to be second to wire-to-wire winner Superior Storm in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance at Oaklawn Park on Thursday that served as her first start of the year.

The race was to be her stepping-stone to the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn on April 4, and her trainer, Larry Jones, said on Thursday that remains the first major stakes objective for Proud Spell.

Proud Spell settled in third under regular rider Gabriel Saez as Superior Storm set fractions of 23.82 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 48.64 for the half, and 1:13.88 for six furlongs. Proud Spell sat about three lengths behind the leader on a track rated muddy, and put in her bid through the lane, but Superior Storm held on to win by 2 1/2 lengths.

Jones said he felt Proud Spell was "left with too much to do," and said she initially looked like she came out of the race in good order. Superior Storm covered the distance in 1:46.71. She paid $12.20.

Proud Spell won last year's Kentucky Oaks as well as the Fair Grounds and Delaware Oaks on her way to the Eclipse Award. She was the 1-5 favorite on Thursday, with about $213,000 of the $225,000, or 94 percent, in the show pool bet on her.

Proud Spell is a 4-year-old daughter of Proud Citizen and she races for her breeder, Brereton Jones.

Superior Storm is a multiple stakes winner of more than $500,000, trained by Rick Jackson. She was ridden on Thursday by Luis Quinonez. Superior Storm races for Jac Mac Stables.