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DEL MAR, CA – Gary Barber’s Liam’s Dove led the field on a merry gate-to-wire chase and broke her maiden with authority in Sunday’s $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf Stakes.
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Liam’s Dove went comfortably to the lead after breaking from post 10 as a 34/1 longshot under Kyle Frey, who piloted the Peter Miller trainee through opening fractions of :22.71, :46.82, and 1:11.26.
Liam’s Dove extended her advantage at the top of the stretch but appeared to grow leg-weary in the final 1/16 of a mile, just as the 3/1 favorite Helens Well came rallying from the rear.
Liam’s Dove held determinedly in the late stages, however, keeping the bettors’ choice at bay by a head while completing the firm turf mile route in 1:36.65.
“She fell out of there and I saw that we were all pretty much in a straight line, so I clucked to her a little bit and got a good spot up front,” Frey said. “On the backside, I saw her ears go up, and that’s when you know they’re happy. We just went on with it from there and she got it done.”
A tight five-filly photo finish for third went to Dolly May by a head over Urban, with Dendera, Into Touring, and Sax all close behind.
La Deuxieme Etoile, Miss Belatrix, Sea Breezing, and Distorted Diva completed the order of finish.
Liam’s Dove’s win followed a third-place finish over this course and distance in which she set the early pace but faded to third in a race won by Helens Well. With a pair of solid efforts at the same track where the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) will be held in 2 months’ time, Miller indicated that the Liam’s Map filly will point to the World Championships.
“I’m speechless; a 30/1 shocker,” Miller said. “Kyle is a good speed rider, but I didn’t think we would be on the lead. I thought some horses would go and we’d be sitting second or third, but Kyle got the lead and put them to sleep. He played it and played it. We tried to run her in a maiden race and didn’t get in, it overfilled. We didn’t want to wait until Santa Anita to run her again, so this was kind of a second option. I asked Mr. Barber if it would be OK to run here and he said yes.”
Liam’s Dove returned $71.80 to win, $27.20 to place, and $12.60 to show. Helens Well brought back $5 to place and $3.60 to show. Dolly May paid $5.60 to show.
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