A homecoming victory was set for King of Prussia’s Princess of Sylmar in Saturday’s Grade 1 Delaware Handicap, too bad the party was crashed by a former commoner, a $35,000 claimer, now turned graded stakes winner, Belle Gallantey.
Belle Gallantey stole the Princess’ crown by lulling her and four other fillies and mares into a slumber by waltzing through soft early fractions with jockey Jose Ortiz aboard for the deft, 10-furlong ride on Delaware Park’s fast, main surface. For his part, Ortiz was waiting for Princess of Sylmar to come, but when he had no pressure passing six furlongs through 1:13, he knew his chances of victory were good.
“It was a nice easy pace and she relaxed for me,” Ortiz said of the five-year-old daughter of After Market. Even still, he knew Princess of Sylmar might be able to catch his mare. “She’s a real nice filly; a Kentucky Oaks winner.”
Back in the day, Ed Stanco and his family, frequented Delaware Park from their home just outside of Philadelphia, where he and his wife, Ina raised three sons and since Princess of Sylmar was raised at Sylmar Farm just a short car ride away, it was a chance for all to return home. Stanco estimated more than 300 family and friends came out to cheer his homebred on.
Watching Stanco outside the third floor, clubhouse dinning room, you’d think he was running for office with all the glad-handing, back-patting and hugging he did with Delaware Park friends, past, present and new. While smiling throughout the pre-race festivities, Stanco said, “It sucks in Mudville,” after the Delaware Handicap loss had sunk in.
Coming home can be tough, especially when you don’t win. Even with the stinging loss Stanco was gracious in defeat, “This is the way it is supposed to feel. It’s the other side of the upside.”
While Belle Gallentey wasn’t entered to rain on the Princess’ parade she did just that. And to think, if she wasn’t scratched as a main-track entrant in a rained-off turf race at Belmont Park earlier in the week, the story line could have been much different.
Still Belle Gallantey’s close and troubled fifth place finish behind Close Hatches, Princess of Sylmar and Beholder in the Phipps Stakes gave trainer Rudy hope that he had found a Grade 1 company mare from the claimer scrap heap. “We never got a clean run [in the Phipps]. We were behind horses and had to check a little bit and she only got beat a 1 ½ length for everything.”
Today, Belle Gallantey had it all her own way and Princess of Sylmar either didn’t have her A-game or couldn’t adjust to slow pace given her.
It is unknown the next starts for either horse. Rodriquez said he will discuss giving Belle Gallantey a summer rest. Stanco will talk with Princess’ trainer, Todd Pletcher, about the summer-fall race schedule and if, indeed the Personal Ensign in Saratoga will be her next start.