“It was an outstanding performance,” winning trainer Bill Kaplan said.
A daughter of A. P. Warrior and the Stormy Atlantic mare Sweetness, Moment of Delight was one of only two in the field of six sophomore fillies with previous experience at the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Meadow Star, having finishing second in the My Dear Girl division of the Florida Sire Stakes a year ago. Stretching out beyond a mile for the first time since, the bay again showed an affinity for the added distance, covering the distance in 1:44.57.
Under journeyman Juan Leyva, Moment of Delight broke alertly and sat just off the leaders early, pressuring the pace of 3-5 favorite and accomplished sprinter Dogwood Trail, winner of July’s Azalea Stakes (G3), and A. Bianco Holding’s Mom’z Laugh through a 23.92-second quarter-mile and a 47.73-second half. Heading around the far turn, Mom’z Laugh gave way as Moment of Delight, confidently handled by Leyva, bore down on Dogwood Trail. At the top of the stretch, the lanky bay took command from the chestnut sprinter and kicked clear, pouring it on late as a much-the-best winner.
“We let Juan free-wheel her,” Kaplan said. “We let her go at her own pace. We didn’t try and hold her back. She’s a long-striding, freewheeling horse. You can’t take too much hold of her.”
Kaplan said that although Moment of Delight has always run well in routes, distance wasn’t necessarily the deciding factor Saturday, as the filly broke her maiden going five-eighths and is stakes-placed at 6 ½ furlongs, but he did note that his charge relished a return to the main track after finishing a well-beaten seventh in the grassy Jewel Princess division of the Florida Sire Stakes Sept. 5.
“She hated the turf,” Kaplan said. “Juan just saved her [that day]. She ran a great race [today]. She’s capable of this at any time.”
“This is beautiful,” he added. “She deserves this.”
Moment of Delight, who also hit the board in the Hut Hut Stakes, Juvenile Filly Sprint Stakes, and the Susan’s Girl division of the Florida Sire Stakes as a 2-year-old, now boasts a record of 3-4-1 from 12 career starts and improved her earnings to $296,420 with her first stakes victory. She returned a healthy $28.00 to win.
Dogwood Trail ($2.40, $2.10) held on gamely for second, ½-length in front of Holywell ($4.40), the only runner with a previous victory at 1 1/16 mile. Savingtime was fourth, followed by Sweet Madea and Mom’z Laugh.