Glencrest Farm LLC's DEVIL MAY CARE (Malibu Moon) returned to the winner's circle on Saturday with an emphatic, but green, victory in the $200,000 Bonnie Miss S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park. It was iffy for a moment in midstretch whether or not jockey John Velazquez would stay in the saddle as Devil May Care suddenly veered toward the rail, but there was no question about who was best in the nine-furlong test. Despite running awkwardly, the Todd Pletcher charge easily pulled away to be 2 3/4 lengths clear on the line while stopping the clock in 1:49 on the fast dirt.
"We've always thought a lot of this filly, but I'm not surprised that some could be a little skeptical after her last two races," Pletcher admitted. "In the case of the Breeders' Cup it was simply a matter of she hated the synthetic (track). She trained great for the race in Louisiana (in the Silverbulletday [G3]), but then she misbehaved at the gate and then they got pretty severe with her and then used tongs, which most fillies don't handle well.
"When she made the lead so easily today she ducked when she started to see things, which makes you consider putting blinkers on, although you don't like to that after a winning race. We'll see about that. She'll go right to the (Kentucky) Oaks (G1) from this race."
Amen Hallelujah (Montbrook) and Christine Daae (Giant's Causeway) surged to the front from their outside posts when the gates opened, but Switch (Quiet American) scooted up along the inside to take the lead through fractions of :23 3/5 and :47 1/5. She was closely tracked on the outside by Amen Hallelujah and Christine Daae, while Devil May Care was saving ground racing just off the rail to the inside of Christine Daae.
Switch began backing up nearing the turn, and for a brief moment Devil May Care appeared trapped between Switch to her inside and Christine Daae to the outside, with Amen Hallelujah directly in front. Fortunately, Christine Daae went a little wide and Amen Hallelujah was already drawing away, allowing Devil May Care to continue her momentum and range up to the outside. The bay lass began pulling off, shied toward the inside once clear of Amen Hallelujah, but those stretch-run antics couldn't stop her from posting the easy win as the 7-1 fourth choice.
"I saw that the other horse (Amen Hallelujah) was still in hand, but my filly too was in hand too, and I always knew we were able to go by any time I wanted," Velazquez said. "But the most important thing with this filly is to not make the lead too soon, because I know that once she makes the lead, she tries to stop and wants to put the brakes on. She did that today; and then she started going in and out a little through the stretch. But when I got her mind back to running, she kept on going with a nice kick.
"She has tremendous talent, but she still has some learning to do."
Devil May Care paid $16.20, $5.80 and $3.80 while keying the $49 exacta, $232.60 trifecta and $688.80 superfecta (3-5-4-2). Amen Hallelujah was best of the rest, finishing five lengths in front of Joanie's Catch (First Tour) to return $3 and $2.20 as the 3-2 second choice.
"She got a little tired last and she started to pull a bit," Julien Leparoux said of Amen Hallelujah, "but I think it was a good race and she'll be in good shape for the race in Kentucky (Kentucky Oaks)."
Joanie's Catch, who had run second in her past four races, was worth $3 at 12-1 and was followed under the line by Switch, 6-5 favorite Christine Daae and Danny's Friend (Broken Vow).
"She never really settled like we thought she was going to," jockey Corey Nakatani explained Christine Daae's effort. "But it wasn't a disgrace; there are some nice horses that were in there. (Trainer) Patrick (Biancone) told me the timing of the race might be a little bit quick back for her. I didn't want to ask too much of her on the turn. We'll just go back to the drawing board with her and go get the next one."
Bred in Kentucky by Diamond A Racing Corp., Devil May Care easily broke her maiden at Saratoga last August, then posted a head score in the Frizette S. (G1) at Belmont Park. The lass did not like the synthetic Pro-Ride at Santa Anita when running 11th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) to close out her two-year-old campaign, and opened 2010 with a fifth-place finish in the Silverbulletday S. (G3) following what Pletcher described was her extreme aggravation following issues in the gate.
Devil May Care sold for $110,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling, but was then an RNA at $400,000 as a Fasig-Tipton February two-year-old. She is out of Kelli's Ransom (Red Ransom), who has since produced a Grand Slam juvenile colt and a Posse yearling colt. Kelli's Ransom is also the dam of Regal Ransom (Distorted Humor), winner of last year's U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) and Super Derby (G2) as well as second in the U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-G3). The 11-year-old mare is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner and 2003 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Minister Eric (Old Trieste), and this is also the female family of multiple Grade 3 queen and 2009 Canadian Broodmare of the Year Pico Teneriffe (Red Ransom), who is herlself the dam of Canadian champion Marchfield (A.P. Indy).