ALLAIRE DUPONT DISTAFF | PURSE: $150,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | FILLIES & MARES | GRADE 3 | 1 1/16 MILES
Summer Applause ground her way to the lead in the stretch in the $148,500 Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes Presented by Toyota, then held off Sea Island for a two-length win May 18 at Pimlico Race Course.
Carrying top weight of 124 pounds, six more than her four rivals, the favored 4-year-old daughter of Harlan's Holiday came off a fourth-place finish in the April 12 Apple Blossom Handicap. She returned to the winning ways that saw her take the March 2 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack for owners Gillian S. Campbell, breeder Greenwood Lodge Farm, Dan Clark, and Greg Skoda.
Jockey John Velazquez tracked a pace set by Daydreamin Gracie, who had gone on to an easy 1 1/2-length lead soon after the break. The front-runner set opening fractions of :26.77 and :51.42 in the 1 1/16-mile event, while Summer Applause raced second and made her move along with Moon Philly after three-quarters in 1:15.70.
Moon Philly struck the lead coming rounding the turn, but Summer Applause had more to give on her outside and steadily wore down that one past the three-sixteenths pole. Getting the mile in 1:40.29, she withstood the late run of Sea Island with a sixteenth to go and edged away under steady handling. She finishing in a final time of 1:46.54 on the fast track. Brushed by a Star passed tiring foes for third, five lengths behind the winner.
"There wasn't much speed in the race," Velazquez said. "I wanted to stay reasonably close to the lead. I asked her for run in the last quarter of a mile and she responded well. We knew it was going to be a slow pace coming into the race. When I needed to move with her, she gave me the run I asked for."
Trainer Chad Brown took over conditioning duties of Summer Applause two starts back. She was previously trained by Bret Calhoun through five starts, including a victory in the 2012 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, a runner-up finish by a head to eventual Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can in the Fair Grounds Oaks, and a fourth in the Kentucky Oaks last year. Josie Carroll had her at Woodbine as a 2-year-old in 2011.
Bred in Kentucky by Greenwood Lodge out of the Royal Academy mare Summer Exhibition, Summer Applause improved her record to five wins and two seconds from 11 starts with earnings of $587,406.
"She ran great," Brown said. "She was spotting everyone six pounds. I was worried about that when I was handicapping the race the last couple days. To really pull away like that and to run such a strong race against some nice fillies, giving weight, I'm really proud of her. We didn't know what the pace was going to be, so I left it up to Johnny."
Off at odds of 8-5, Summer Applause returned $5.20, $3.20, and $2.40. Sea Island brought $4.20 and $2.80, while Brushed by a Star paid $2.20.
Daydreamin Gracie and Moon Philly completed the order of finish. Access to Charlie and Withgreatpleasure scratched.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said he was pleased with the runner-up effort of Phipps Stable's Sea Island, who was ridden by Javier Castellano.
"I thought she ran a good race," he said. "There wasn't any pace and she made a good run at her. I thought maybe we were going to get her at the head of the stretch, but it's a pretty nice filly that won.