WILMINGTON, DE – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s homebred Elate returned to racing on Saturday with a resounding roar, romping home stylishly in her 2018 debut to take the Grade 2, $750,000 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park.
Breaking cleanly from post 6 under Jose Ortiz as the 3-5 favorite, Elate was slow to get moving early but soon found herself in midpack while Proper Discretion posted early splits of :24.21, :49.38, and 1:14.00. Entering the far turn, Proper Discretion appeared to hit a wall and began dropping back, while at the same time, Elate had shaken off any rust from her eight-month layoff and was moving strongly as she took command. Straightening for home with a growing lead lead, Ortiz kept Elate to task and the pair began to draw off. The Bill Mott trainee hit the wire with a 3 1/4-length advantage in a final time of 2:04.83 for the 1 1/4-mile main track event.
“I thought it was a good performance,” said Mott, whose Delaware Handicap victory was his third. “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 to.”
Sneaky Betty lived up to her name, crossing in second at odds of 85-1 by a neck over Teresa Z. Behind them, Fuhriously Kissed nosed out Unbridled Mo for fourth, while Mopotism faded to finish sixth. Nikki My Darling and Proper Discretion completed the order of finish. Farrell was scratched.
Elate’s win was her first since taking back-to-back Grade 1s last summer at Saratoga and Belmont Park. The 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro improved her record to 11-5-3-1 with earnings of $1,270,325.
For Mott, having her debut here was all about timing.
“It was either this race or the (Grade 3) Shuvee at Saratoga, and that is at the end of the month,” Mott said. “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.”
Elate returned $3.20 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.40 to show. Sneaky Betty brought back $23 to place and $7.20 to show, while Teresa Z paid $3.40 to show.