Graceful Princess made her champion mother proud winning her debut at first asking Sunday at Saratoga.
Graceful Princess, the third foal out of 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, went to the lead soon after the start under Manny Franco and led every step of the way en route to a 1 3-4-length victory in a field of nine 2-year-old fillies. She returned $9.70 to win.
Her final time of 1:23.58 was slightly faster the final time of Saturday’s Grade 1 Spinaway won by longshot Sippican Harbor in 1:23.72. Introspection finished second 1 1-4 lengths in front of Dovey Lovey.
“She showed good speed, she’s got a high-cruising speed, outcome was good, she might have been a little [tired] late but big race for a first start,” said Ralph Nicks, who trains Graceful Princess for Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm.
Nicks said he purposely waited for a seven-furlong race late in the meet to start Graceful Princess. In addition to wanting a longer distance, he thought she needed the time to develop. By his account, Graceful Princess was a professional in all facets of her debut.
“She made no mistakes today,” Nicks said. “She loaded in the gate good, broke well, it was all a good effort and she ran every step of the way.”
Graceful Princess returned $9.70 to win.
Last year on the final Sunday of the meet, Nicks debuted
Last year on the final Sunday of the meet, Nicks debuted Caledonia Road who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and be crowned 2-year-old champion.
But Pope said she is not in a hurry to try and get Graceful Princess to this year’s Breeders’ Cup. She explained that in 2015 she and Nicks won a 2-year-old maiden race at Saratoga with Tap To It, who would finish second in the Spinaway and sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. She would end her career with one win from seven starts
"Mentally it was way too much and she never came back to be the horse she could have been,” Pope said. “So I just very much want for [Graceful Princess] to have a very good 3-year-old and 4-year-old season and do right by her and not [rush her] because I want to go to the Breeders’ Cup. It’ll be up to her. She has to be begging to go. Everything has to be right, I’m not going to press it.”
Nicks indicated that Graceful Princess would ship to Belmont with his New York string on Wednesday. A potential next start for Graceful Princess would be the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont on Oct. 7