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BALTIMORE – A year after running third in last year’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2) in just her third lifetime start, Stoneway Farm’s Ahh Chocolate returned to Pimlico Race Course Friday to score her second graded-stakes triumph in the 23rd running of the $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff (G3).
Ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. for trainer Neil Howard, the 4-year-old Candy Ride filly took the lead from pacesetting Super Majesty at the top of the stretch, opened up in the lane and had enough room to hold off a dramatic late rush from Theogony on the outside to win by a half-length.
Sent off at 7-2 in a field of nine older fillies and mares, Ahh Chocolate ($9) ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.82 on a fast main track. Theogony was second, three-quarters of a length ahead of 24-1 long shot Joint Return.
Ahh Chocolate was unbeaten in her first two starts when she arrived in Maryland last year for the Black-Eyed Susan, where she was wide on both turns and flattened out but was still beaten just 3 ¼ lengths by upset winner Keen Pauline. She capped her sophomore season with a victory in the Falls City Handicap (G2), also over Theogony.
Winning Trainer Neil Howard (Ahh Chocolate): “I was thrilled. She’s such a nice filly. All of these races are so damned tough. It was an honest pace, she really dug in down the stretch. You’ve got to give it to Stoneway (Farm). That’s what they do, breed and race these kinds of horses. I love coming here, winning here is terrific. You know wha? I’m glad to win a maiden race, any race, so this is great. She’s pretty consistent.”
Winning Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. (Ahh Chocolate): “We had a beautiful trip. She left there on the button today and put us where we needed to be. I got a little nervous going around the second turn that the Asmussen filly (Super Majesty) would kick on, but when I nudged on my filly she went after it really nicely and finished it off great.
“I was about two lengths off of it on the outside. She’s such a big rangy filly that she’s better on the outside and getting a good rhythm about her.”
(On blood on right knee) “I don’t know what happened to her. She nicked a blood vessel up high above her knee somewhere. With her hot like that and her adrenaline running, the blood was pouring out pretty good. But the vet looked her over and it looked superficial. She felt good coming back, but I was just a little nervous because of the amount of blood she had. I don’t know where it would have happened, because she left there smoothly and never got bounced around at any point. But some way she came back nicked up.
“After the Falls City last year, she got a little break. She’s one of those fillies where it’s taken some races to get back to her true form. This was her third race off the layoff and she ran back to her form last fall.”
Trainer Mark Casse (Theogony, 2nd): “She came with a run. She ran well. She is a nice horse who needs to go a little farther. But we are happy as long as they run well and are safe.”
Jockey Julien Leparoux (Theogony, 2nd): “She ran well. The first part of the race she fell back a little bit, where I didn’t feel like she was going to give me anything. But by the three-eighths of a mile, I started to get going and she finished fast.”
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche (Joint Return, 3rd): “I had a beautiful trip. I got inside the whole way, but the other horse had enough momentum to beat me today. She ran perfect.
Pimlico Race Course
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