DEL MAR OAKS | PURSE: $300,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 1 | 1 1/8 MILES (TURF)
Discreet Marq, invading from New York for trainer Christophe Clement, shot to the lead coming into the stretch and proved best through the lane to register a mild upset in the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks at Del Mar Aug. 17.
Clement has done this before, taking the 2007 Del Mar Oaks with raider Rutherienne along with three other graded stakes at Del Mar in recent years. Patricia Generazio, who bred the daughter of Discreet Cat in New York, owns Discreet Marq. The gray filly has won her past three starts.
Julien Leparoux rode Discreet Marq to victory by three-quarters of a length in a time of 1:47.38 for 1 ⅛ miles over a firm turf course.
San Clemente Handicap winner Wishing Gate closed well at the rail to claim second. Owners/breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey, bidding for a fourth Grade 1 victory nationally Aug. 17, had to settle for third and fourth, respectively, with Emotional Kitten and Kitten's Dumplings, the 8-5 favorite.
Previously trained by Jane Cibelli, Discreet Marq is 3-for-3 for Clement after previously capturing the Sands Point and Eventail stakes at Belmont Park.
"The decision to come out here worked out well," said Christophe Lorieul, assistant to Clement. "The only question we had today was the distance."
Second choice in the field of 10 3-year-old fillies at 9-2, Discreet Marq was forwardly placed by Leparoux in third as outsider Need You Now led Unusual Way through quarter mile fractions of :23,69, :48.67, and 1:13. Kitten's Dumplings, favored off three consecutive stakes wins in Kentucky and New York, raced off the pace but was in trouble rounding the turn when she was shuffled back to last.
Discreet Marq angled to the outside of the tiring front runners and cut the sharp Del Mar turn effectively to take over at the head of the homestretch. She had it all her own way through the drive, Leparoux keeping her mind on business with left-handed urging, as Wishing Gate surged late along the inside for Garrett Gomez.
"The plan was to get her to relax, to get her in behind horses and get her to relax," said Leparoux after his first Del Mar Oaks win. "She did that quite well. Then when I got her outside, she went. She was good."
Wishing Gate was good enough to edge Emotional Kitten and Victor Espinoza for second by three parts of a length. Kitten's Dumplings had too much to do after a rough journey though she also finished willingly for Mike Smith.
"My filly was running, but they weren't stopping," Smith said.
Discreet Marq posted her fifth lifetime win from 10 starts while extending her earnings to $485,900 for Generazio, who bred the striking filly from the multiple stakes winner and graded stakes-placed mare To Marquet. The daughter of Marquetry is also the dam of stakes-placed Marquet Cat and stakes winner Marquet Madness.
Discreet Marq is the first Grade 1 winner for young Darley sire Discreet Cat, whose resume at stud includes six graded stakes winners to date from three crops to race.
She wired both the Sands Point, on the inner Belmont course May 27, and the Eventail, which she captured by 6 ¼ lengths on the Widener course.
"We told Julien that the only chance we had today was to get her covered up, because she had been running on the lead in New York," Lorieul said. "We worked her from behind horses in New York and [rating] had been no problem. She's very rateable, she can do anything you want. That's why she's a very good filly. "
Under equal weights of 122 pounds, Discreet Marq paid $11.40, $6.20, and $4.40. Wishing Gate, who trailed the field early, returned $6.80 and $4.40. The exacta was worth $55.40. Emotional Kitten paid $4.60.
Kitten's Dumplings was followed by Unusual Way, Need You Now, Charlie Em, Pearlside, Doinghardtimeagain, and Ighraa.
Sarach, who won Del Mar's Sandy Blue Handicap Aug. 16, was scratched.