An eight month layoff and the mile and a quarter did not slow Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Elate down in the $750,000 Grade II Delaware Handicap. With Jose Ortiz aboard, the 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro notched a 3 ¼-length victory and returned $3.20 as the favorite in the field of eight.
“It was either this race or the Shuvee at Saratoga and that is at the end of the month,” said winning trainer Bill Mott. “We felt like she was doing well, so we just decided to go ahead and get her started. We knew we had a quality filly and we knew she was capable of winning a race like this if we had her right.”
Sneaky Betty, with Jomar Torres, finished second at odds of 85-to-1 a neck in front of Teresa Z, with Daniel Centeno, in third.
Proper Discretion, with Agustin Bracho, cut early fractions of :49.38 for the half-mile and 1:14.00 for the three-quarters mile before fading to eighth. The final time for the mile and a quarter over a fast main track was 2:04.83
Last year, Elate posted a record of three wins, three seconds and a third from nine starts. The Kentucky-bred won the $50,000 Light Hearted Stakes at Delaware Park, ran second in the Grade I CCA Oaks at Saratoga, won the Grade I Alabama at Saratoga, won the Grade I Beldame at Belmont Park and she finished her 3-year-old campaign by running fourth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar.
Mott was pleased with race especially considering this was her first start since the Breeders’ Cup.
“I thought it was a good performance,” said Mott. “She went early, she held on well and she did what she had to do. It looked like when she took over, she did it with authority and she finished up. Was she getting a little tired at the end? Well she could have been, but she had a right too.”
Mott has noticed Elate has gotten a little bigger since her 3-year-old season.
“She has always been a big strong filly, but she has filled out and broadened out just a bit. She weighs about 1,240 pounds, so she is a lot filly,” he said.
With the Breeders’ Cup Distaff as her year-end goal, her next start will be at Saratoga.
“Right now, if all goes well the Personal Ensign at Saratoga would be the target.”
Elate has a career record of five wins from 11 starts with earnings of $1,270,325.