08/26/2012 7:15PM

Saratoga: Love and Pride outperforms two major stars in Personal Ensign

Tom Keyser
Love and Pride, racing without blinkers under John Velazquez, scores a 10-1 upset over 3-5 favorite Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.-   It’s rarely called a surprise when a Todd Pletcher trained horse wins any stakes,  let alone  an important race like the $600,000 Personal Ensign. But that was the case Sunday at Saratoga after Love and Pride outlasted the 2011 champion 3-year-old filly Royal Delta and unlucky It’s Tricky to upset the Personal Ensign for her first Grade 1 win.  

Sent off at odds of 10-1, perhaps an underlay in the minds of many handicappers, Love and Pride benefitted from a well-judged ride by John Velazquez and the misfortune of It’s Tricky at the break to register a half-length decision over the 3-5 Royal Delta. It’s Tricky turned in a tremendous effort after stumbling badly leaving the gate before succumbing grudgingly in late stretch to finish another length farther back in third.

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Pletcher took the blinkers off Love and Pride for the Personal Ensign, a decision which may have helped Velazquez to rate her just off the pace of Brushed by a Star for the opening six furlongs of the 1 1/8-mile race. Love and Pride gained a brief advantage approaching the quarter pole when Brushed by a Star drifted out and retreated but was quickly joined to her inside by It’s Tricky. Love and Pride was able to withstand the challenge, edged clear despite switching back to her left lead near midstretch, and  then withstood Royal Delta  under a vigorous hand ride by Velazquez, who did not go to the stick at all through the stretch.

Royal Delta raced in perfect striking position behind the early leaders but appeared to lose momentum when drifting four or five wide entering the stretch. The 2011 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner dropped back to fourth position upon settling into the stretch but showed her class, fought on bravely, y and was gradually getting to the winner at the end.

It’s Tricky went to her nose immediately after the break, recovered to race well-placed under patient handling by jockey Eddie Castro, found ample room along the rail to join for command approaching the stretch before, and gave way  grudgingly from the effort through the final furlong.

Love and Pride, a 4-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy owned by Green Hills Farm Inc., completed the distance in 1:49.22  and paid $22..

“It’s nice to sometimes just come into a race and not have to sweat it out too much,” said Pletcher when asked what it’s like to fly under the radar with a horse in a major stakes. “If you get a result like this it’s a home run and if not, no one’s throwing rocks at you on the way out. ”

Pletcher explained the decision to remove the blinkers for the Personal Ensign.

“She’s a tricky filly to ride. She doesn’t like to be touched with the whip, and it was after a quick conversation with my assistant Michael Dilger in Delaware that we figured we had nothing to lose by taking the blinkers off to just try to get her to turn off a little bit.” said Pletcher. “She switched back to her left lead the first time Johnny showed her the stick so he just had to hand -ride her aggressively the rest of the way.”

Trainer Bill Mott said Royal Delta was just not at her best on Sunday.

“My filly ran a good race, a credible race, but not her best race,” said Mott. “Obviously Love and Pride was the best horse today.”

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said It’s Tricky appeared to come away unscathed from the incident leaving the gate.

“Just unlucky.  She stumbled very badly. The jockey was lucky to stay on,” said McLaughlin. “She got up and ran her heart out. It’s very unfortunate. I’m really proud of her. I feel like we were the best today had we broke well, but congratulations to the winner.”



B More than 1 year ago
Poor It's Tricky! Clearly much the best on this day. Royal Delta is an excellent filly on her best day, a very good one on most days, but she is not remotely a great one as I heard said a few times on TVG.
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
As the horses were warming up on the track Royal Delta completely washed out - and it was not that hot at Saratoga (none of the other horses looked like that.) For her to run as well as she did given her appearance before the race is impressive, she did that on class. It's Tricky - given the stumble and loss of ground - I would say she was at least 5 lengths better than this field yesterday. An amazing performance, taking the lead in the stretch and battling gamely to the wire. A Herculean effort. Moral of the story - don't assume Royal Delta is not all that because of this outing - she looked like she stepped out of a sauna. And It's Tricky is going to be exchausted from this run, if they bring her back to quick I would expect a move backward. The winner? No need to get too excited, she was the beneficiary of favorable circumstance, something that us gamblers appreciate!
DrSmoke120 More than 1 year ago
Another G1 ride from Smith. Boy does he stink. RD wasn't her best but c'mon Mike, you gotta do better than that
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
once again , I lost it must be the jockeys fault.......RD had the entire stretch to get by and hung.......
richard montgomery More than 1 year ago
Pletcher said this filly doesnt like the whip thats why John rode her like he did.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Love and Pride had a big, big race today. Congratulations to L&P and her connections, she ran a great race. I'm happy to see It's Tricky seems to have come out of the race okay, thank goodness, her stumble caused me to be concerned for her. My girl, Her Highness, Royal Delta, and Game On Dude both lost races they were expected to win, a very interesting and unexpected coincidence. Both ran very good races, but they just were not the best horses today on their respective race tracks. And we had an exciting Travers Stakes yesterday with a highly unexpected ending. It has been a fun, wild weekend of racing!
Steven Jackson More than 1 year ago
Was on the rail during pre race warm up. Royal Delta was totally washed out. Smith spent half the post parade wiping the sweat off her with his whip. She still ran credibly and was slowing gaining late...she will be back, big time.
Donna Straley More than 1 year ago
I watched on TV & was shocked by how bad she looked. In the paddock she appeared to be fine. I know she can get a little hot sometimes, but this was way more than that. Something was definitely not right with her today.
Timothy Connors More than 1 year ago
I was at the rail alos. I've never seen a horse sweet like that before the race. I can not believe she ran that well. she is class
Patrick James More than 1 year ago
Watch the race and read the transcript above, then maybe, just maybe you might be able to comprehend why Saratoga is called the graveyard of favorites.....the result was from a combination of Tricky bad step leaving the gate, Royal Delta had a very tough race returning at Delaware and John gave Love&Pride a perfect ride, no whip included, how a loudmouth like you figure juicing but then again, just look who is screaming Juicer Rat,SMDFH@lilmikey
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
take your coded lettering filth elsewhere!
Patrick James More than 1 year ago
Did they juice you Mike? Cuz your head looks like its exploding!! Dumbass
rdeeps52 More than 1 year ago
Johnny V has been lights out since his return from injury
akhiym james More than 1 year ago
What a great race this was. Its Tricky had a horrible start and still ran a huge race. Don't know for sure if she would've won without a bad start but she still ran amazing. Royal Delta got hung to wide and I think she should've been a lil closer to the front. Mikey didn't have a good weekend here he's been having some tough defeats this year probably because of some minor mistakes but he's still one of the best big money riders period. And Johnny is just an amazing rider. Jockeys really need to learn for this guy because people always think you have to whip a horse to win a race and this race shows you don't have to whip to win. Johnny doesn't whip a lot of his horses when they win he drives/hand rides them. That's why I loved Pat Day because he did the same thing but Johnny is the best rider in the country