SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Phoenix Thoroughbreds’ Dream Tree showed no signs of rust on Sunday, returning from a seven-month layoff to cruise home still undefeated in the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress Stakes.
Sent postward as the co-9/5 favorite under Mike Smith, Dream Tree broke in slightly and bumped with fellow southern California shipper Moonshine Memories before rushing up to settle along the outside of the other co-favorite, Mia Mischief. Heads apart, the pair ran through fractions of :22.30 and :44.93 before exiting onto the far turn still in step. Still neck-and-neck with a furlong remaining, Smith finally gave Dream Tree the green light, and she responded by drawing off tremendously. The Bob Baffert trainee crossed the wire with a 4 1/4-length growing advantage in a final time of 1:09.50 while never asked for her best over the 6-furlong main track sprint.
“She gave me goosebumps to be honest,” Smith said. “I had never ridden her in the afternoon. I was fortunate enough to work her one morning, so I knew she was really talented, but I didn’t realize she was this talented. You go back and look at some of fillies that she’s beat, and she’s beaten some really, really good fillies, so the only thing that worried me a little bit was the long layoff, but she handled that well within herself. She was sharp out of the gate and she’s pretty aggressive in the post parade, she gets herself wound up, but the best part of the race is when the doors open; that’s when she relaxes. She has a natural high cruising speed and Bob had her ready today. He told me that’s why he decided to ship her.”
Mia Mischief faded after the taxing stretch run and barely held on to second, finishing just a head in front of Moonshine Memories. Sower necked out fourth over Cathedral Reader, while Purrfect Miss, Classy Act, and Win the War completed the order of finish. Bronx Beauty and Dream Pauline were scratched.
Dream Tree’s win improved her record to 5 wins in as many starts, including the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes last December and the Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes in February. The 3-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo has now earned $527,500 – closer to, but not eclipsing, the $750,000 that her owners paid at auction in March 2017.
“Man, she brought it today,” Baffert said by phone from Del Mar. “She had been training so well and we were debating on running her here in a stake on closing day or take her to Saratoga. We decided to give her a shot since she was doing so well. I’m just glad she shipped well and is still undefeated. That freshening really helped her. She’s really matured a lot. She showed today how good she really is. It’s pretty exciting.”
When asked if he would keep her short or stretch her out moving forward, Baffert was noncommittal.
“She showed last year that she could win going short, going long,” he said. “She’s extremely fast. Turning for home, I thought, ‘Man, I think she’s ready.’ They were going pretty fast. I think Mike was pretty impressed with her. Sometimes it works out and sometimes, it leaves you scratching your head. I’m just really glad it worked out.”
Dream Tree returned $5.80 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.70 to show. Mia Mischief brought back $3.10 to place and $2.40 to show, while Moonshine Memories paid $3 to show.