On the final Sunday of the 2017 Saratoga meet, trainer Ralph Nicks sent out a debuting 2-year-old filly to win a seven-furlong maiden race at Saratoga at odds of 10-1.
That filly, Caledonia Road, would two months later win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and be crowned champion 2-year-old filly.
On Sunday, Nicks will send out another debuting 2-year-old filly in a seven-furlong maiden race at Saratoga. It is highly unlikely Graceful Princess will go off at similar odds as Caledonia Road.
Graceful Princess is a daughter of Tapit out of the champion mare Havre de Grace, who in 2011 won the Grade 1 Woodward here against males and was voted Horse of the Year.
Graceful Princess is the third foal out of Havre de Grace. Heavenly Grace, a 4-year-old full sister to Graceful Princess, won a maiden race in May at Gulfstream Park in her fourth start and is 1 for 6. River Front, a son of War Front, finished sixth at Gulfstream in June in his lone start.
Nicks said he purposely waited for a seven-furlong race to debut Graceful Princess, believing longer distances “would be to her benefit.”
Nicks also said Graceful Princess was slow to come around mentally and credited his assistant Heather Smullen with getting her ready to run.
“Heather spent a lot of time with her and it was necessary,” Nicks said. “The filly needed the mental education more than anything.”
Graceful Princess has a solid series of works leading to her debut, and Nicks said that the filly goes in steady 12-second furlongs in most of her moves.
“I would expect her to make a good showing,” Nicks said. “I don’t know that she has to win.”
Graceful Princess drew post 4 in a 10-horse field and will be ridden by Manny Franco.
Graceful Princess is one of three first-time starters in the field. Fancy That is a daughter of Street Sense out of the Grade 2-winning mare Sara Louise and is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. Off Topic is also a daughter of Street Sense out of the second-out winner Off Limits. She goes out for Todd Pletcher.
Dance Club, out of the champion dam Storm Flag Flying, is making her second start after finishing third going 5 1/2 furlongs in her debut here on Aug. 5 for trainer Shug McGaughey.
In race 7, the other division of this maiden race, Stand for the Flag makes her debut for trainer Chad Brown. Stand for the Flag’s dam, Raise the Flag, is a half-sister to Storm Flag Flying and shows a series of solid moves for her debut.
The field for the seventh also includes Positive Spirit, a half-sister to 2017 Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming trained by Rodolphe Brisset. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the call.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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