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Breeders' Cup 2017

Not Enough Credit For A Princess

They called it the greatest rendition of the 139 year old Kentucky Oaks. The much less popular sister of the immortal Kentucky Derby was getting much more spotlight this year. With a new point system intact, nearly every single top three-year-old filly stepped into the starting gate. From the champion juvenile Beholder coming off of back to back Grade 1 wins in California, to Dreaming of Julia off a 20+ length stakes romp last out, the unbeaten sensation of Unlimited Budget, and the undefeated rising stars of Close Hatches and Midnight Lucky, among others. It was bound to be a great race.


January 5th, 2013. I was home alone watching TVG when the feature on the card at Aqueduct came on, the ungraded Busanda Stakes for 3YO fillies. I watched a little Pennsylvania-bred chestnut filly, coming from Penn National, romp by 7 1/2 lengths. Her name was Princess of Sylmar. Right then I decided she was my Oaks horse. Again on February 2nd I watched her run away from the field by a dominant 7 lengths in the Busher Stakes. All the talk started up about Beholder, Dreaming of Julia, Unlimited Budget, and Midnight Lucky. No one seemed to take notice to the little filly tearing up Aqueduct's inner track. Was I the only one who noticed her promise?  


I was lucky enough to make my way up to Aqueduct for Wood Memorial Day on April 6th. I was most excited to see my favorite filly in her first graded stakes. Rested for all of March, she was a fresh set of legs. But so was Juddmonte Farm's allowance winner Close Hatches. Those two met four overmatched rivals. The favorite by only 25 cents over Sylmar, Close Hatches bounded to the lead and set a noticeably slow pace before running away to an easy victory. Princess of Sylmar, being the deep closer she is, had nothing to run down and trailed home 3 1/4 lengths behind the eventual winner. Everyone disregarded her nearly immediately. Everyone but me, it seemed.


As the preps came to a close and the field for the 139th Oaks took shape it became obvious to me that this race was exploding with pace. Beholder, Dreaming of Julia, Close Hatches, Midnight Lucky, and the little Oaklawn speedball Rose to Gold. The pace had to be blazing fast. It all set up perfectly for Princess of Sylmar. With Unlimited Budget, Seaneen Girl, and Silsita suspected to be close to the pace, Princess of Sylmar was the only closer besides the inconsistent Pure Fun, who's best performance came over the synthetic. Drawing post 6 in an eventual field of 10, Princess of Sylmar went to the post at odds of 38-1 and was the second longest shot on the board.


Let me repaint the running of the race:

After a horrendous start that tossed around all of the horses in the middle of the starting gate, Princess of Sylmar sat in second to last while Midnight Lucky bounded away to set the pace with Beholder, Unlimited Budget, and Silsita tracing her every move. After a half in 46 and change, the filly was given her cue and she began to pick off horses one by one approaching the 3/8 pole until she was sitting in fourth turning for home. Swinging off the turn, champion Beholder charged away to a two length lead and looked clear to victory as Unlimited Budget tried to close to no avail and Midnight Lucky began to drop back. But suddenly, uncoiling a run down the middle of the track, was all but who? Princess of Sylmar. Pounding down the center of the track it appeared she would never get there, but hitting the final 1/16th of a mile she drew dead even with a game Beholder and drew away to win by a half length.


Since so many people were caught in the moment of this "huge upset" (And while I was freaking out with overexcitement) not many people took the time to look back at her race record to realize it wasn't that big of an upset. Her much inflated odds was all that made the upset. This is one of the most underrated horses I've seen in a while. The Oaks was run over two months ago, believe it or not, and Princess of Sylmar still hasn't recieved the proper credit she deserves. If the Eclipse Awards were held tomorrow I believe personally that she would be awarded champion three-year-old filly. This is my opinion. It's an extremely good crop, arguably better than the boys, but Princess of Sylmar defeated them all in the biggest race on the biggest day.


The Oaks wasn't a fluke. Expected to be back next in the Coaching Club American Oaks she should come back strong and hopefully will be for the rest of the year also. It's about time Princess of Sylmar gets the credit she so much deserves. She sure as well earned it.


-Averie Levanti


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Older Comments about Not Enough Credit For A Princess...

shores you are absolutely correct, he did only have 1 bad race . but to be honest ,to be considered among the best he will have to beat them. i personally believe he will be more than compettitive this summer. but this is not an attempt to convince others. by the way mary. you are all so right. sentiment can only take you so far.heavy pockets are just as rewarding.
I mean, I could see Vyjack being competitive in the Cigar Mile, but that of course is at Aqueduct so I don't know how handsomely he would pay. But I hope he does well in the summer classics because he's only ran one bad race in his life and deserves some respect.
But, I'd want in on the financial gain with a good wager, of course.
I can certainly understand that sentiment.
Yes, because there are more successful KY breds and NY breds than PA breds
  • ekindy · Because there are more of them. That doesn't tell you if a PA bred is more or less likely to be successful. · 1563 days ago
mary i will be honest with you.should vyjack be fortunate to win a big one and pay handsomely. i do not say this about any other horse. i will be happier that my good friend won rather than what i collected.
averie , i have been pounding the pavement saying the same things since she won the oaks. i am glad you brought up the start. it seems all eyes were affixed on DOJ when she took up. The princess was almost snapped in half by smith trying to avoid trouble .The acceleration she showed down the bacstretch going by horses was amazing. w hat made it even so incredible is that she sustained her rally for the balance of the race. She did not win the race, she destroyed them. Kudos to Todd for laying her up and giving her time to recover from such an effort. Not to compare the horses, and i know many will attack me for bringing up his name. like vyjack who ran in NY during the winter,all think that the racing is cheap.all the good horses go to florida,louisiana or oaklawn. she showed that is the farthest thing from the truth.her still being underrated is mind boggling. on another site , i will not mention it. the columnist wrote an article regarding the up coming CCA at saratoga. She was not the lead,the journalist thought it was more important to lead with the fact that Dreaming of Julia were passing up the race.. i guess mike repoli does not fear her. After all he ran in the Belmont Stakes against the best 3 yo colts in the world,to avoid Dreaming of Julia.Unfortunately,the price we got in the Oaks is ancient history.The best we can look forward to down the line will be 3-1 .
  • ekindy · The rest was planned even before the Oaks. Todd wanted to beef her up for the summer races. The only thing the break did was make her miss the Acorn and Mother Goose, and she's better off with her skills saving it for the longer races anyway. · 1563 days ago
PA breds always get less respect.
I didn't think that the comments about Vyjack had to do with the track. Look at it this way, if you're right about him, you get to collect some nice change.
Thanks everyone for the great comments!
Mary,please do not take this as a personal attack or anyone else that feels this way. your opinion is of the minority. all i heard all winter was,how can vyjack be taken seriously.all he has done is race on the inner track at aqueduct against nobodys.they said that all the top 3 year old were at gulf and luisiana. if anyone does not know it,the princess ran on the same days vyjack ran on. so if the theory that all the top colts were away.the same theory would of stood up or the top 3 yo fillies.so please do not come after me like i am attacking you . if you feel the way you do.that is great.
the Princess deserves a ton of respect! i've always liked her. i can't wait to see her in the CCA.
Not "all" think that about Aqueduct racing tmallios. I say that the ones that win at Aqueduct in the winter are tough. Also, I like the inner track 6f stakes(Calibrachoa). I've never gotten to visit Aqueduct, so I just remember the great racing from when I was a kid, and the still exciting frozen tundra racing now. I very much like this write up about Princess Of Sylmar. Good job, Averie, and GL to The Princess in the CCAO.
You hush Averie. I like winning at 38-1 odds.
Princess of sylmar is/and has been my favorite 3yr. old sense her first win. I understand that not every one feels that way but I have always wondered how on earth she was ever considered a long shot.
I also had the pleasure of seeing the Princess at Aqueduct that day, and I liked what I saw and put a little money on her in the Oaks. I hope she gets the respect she deserves at Saratoga because she really has never run a bad race in her life.
I think we did alright wagering on the Princess, didn't we, Brian?
Wonderful piece, Averie. If you follow the pages of ZATT, you know how I've felt about since January 5, as well. And yes, sometimes I feel like the rest of the racing world is sleeping on the Princess. Can't wait for the CCA Oaks!

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