In an explosive move reminiscent of her maiden win at Del Mar on August 15, Ike and Dawn Thrash's TELL A KELLY (Tapit) inhaled 5-2 favorite Wickedly Perfect (Congrats) in midstretch of Saturday's $250,000 Darley Debutante S. (G1) and burst clear to a 4 1/2-length victory. By emphatically brushing aside the hitherto unbeaten Sorrento S. (G3) winner, Tell a Kelly stamped herself as a serious juvenile. The John Sadler trainee completed seven furlongs on the Polytrack in 1:23 and paid $11.20, $5.60 and $3.60 as the 9-2 third choice.
Tell a Kelly thereby became the second Del Mar Debutante winner in three years for Tapit. Her sire was also responsible for 2008 queen Stardom Bound, who went on to earn an Eclipse Award as that season's champion two-year-old filly.
Regular rider Alonso Quinonez reserved Tell a Kelly at the rear of the field down the backstretch. Longshot Gone Rebel (Macabe) led in the opening strides, but Wickedly Perfect quickly moved up along the rail to dictate fractions of :22 and :44 4/5. Sugarinthemorning (Candy Ride [Arg]), A Z Warrior (Bernardini) and Avid (More Than Ready) were in the chasing pack, but they could not keep pace with the leader.
Wickedly Perfect gave her pursuers the slip, opened up a daylight margin at the top of the stretch, and enjoyed a 2 1/2-length cushion while reaching six furlongs in 1:10 1/5. But Tell a Kelly had already been advancing on the inside. Once switched around a stalling rival in the lane, she took off after Wickedly Perfect and passed her as if she were standing still.
"John (Sadler) just told me to warm her up a little bit, but to keep her relaxed," Quinonez said. "He said she'd have more energy for the race if I did that. She broke well and I could tell they were going very, very fast up there. I just let her settle and then I started looking for my spots. I didn't want to get caught in behind some horse that was stopping; I wanted to go with the horses that were going. It all worked out great. I asked her and she exploded. She a very nice filly and I'm glad I got to ride her."
"I didn't expect to be on the lead," said Rafael Bejarano, who rode Wickedly Perfect, "but nobody was going. My filly was relaxed up there and she was running well. She ran well at the end, too. It was just that the winner went by me so easy I couldn't believe it. She (Tell a Kelly) was the best."
Wickedly Perfect, who finished a clear second by 2 1/4 lengths, returned $4.40 and $3.20. Supplementary entry Rigoletta (Concerto) provided a nice return on the investment by garnering third, paying $9.20 at 30-1. The maiden Izshelegal (Maria's Mon), the 4-1 second choice who placed in both the Landaluce S. and Sorrento, was another half-length adrift in fourth after taking the overland route from last. The $1 exotics were worth $20.90 (exacta), $412.70 (trifecta) and $2,869.80 (3-2-8-12 superfecta). A Z Warrior finished fifth, followed by Sugarinthemorning, Righteous Renee (Dixie Union), Avid, She'll Heir (Wildcat Heir) and an eased Gone Rebel. Big Tiz (Tiznow) and Distant Glow (Decarchy) were withdrawn, with the former opting for Sunday's 1ST race instead.
Tell a Kelly was a troubled fifth in her debut at Del Mar on July 25, but rebounded with her impressive 2 1/2-length decision next time out. The chestnut has now bankrolled $181,000.
"The first race she ran here she was pretty green, but showed a lot of determination to finish (fifth)," Sadler noted. "The second time she caught a heavy favorite (Indian Gracey [Indian Ocean]) and was much better and won.
"We were asking a lot of her running three times at Del Mar, but Stardom Bound did it a couple of years ago, so we gave it a try. I was hoping there would be a good pace, because she likes to ease back and settle. She was able to do that today."
Bred by Karen C. West in Florida, Tell a Kelly was a $45,000 Keeneland September yearling who RNA'd for $95,000 as an OBS March two-year-old. She was produced by the winning Tabasco Cat mare Evrobi, and she hails from the family of French champion miler and sire Northjet (Ire) (Northfields). Others appearing in her female line are Group 3 scorers Jendali (Nijinsky II), Madang (Habitat) and Royal Discretion (Royal Academy). Tell a Kelly's fourth dam is 1948 One Thousand Guineas heroine, Queenpot (Big Game).
Besides the winning purse of $150,000, Tell a Kelly's owners also receive a free breeding season to the Darley stallion Street Boss, who has a 2010 fee of $20,000. The breeder also receives a free breeding season, this one to the Darley stallion Any Given Saturday, whose 2010 breeding fee is $25,000.
Sadler has mapped out Tell a Kelly's upcoming targets.
"We'll stay home and run at Oak Tree in the Oak Leaf ([G1] on October 3 at Hollywood)," the trainer said, "and then head for Kentucky for the Breeders' Cup (Juvenile Fillies [G1] at on November 5 at Churchill Downs)."