By: Maryland Jockey Club
LAUREL, MD – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Long Valley Stables’ Grade 1-placed Divine Huntress, facing fellow Maryland-breds for the first time, battled the length of the stretch with Sweet Gracie to her inside before getting her nose down on the wire to earn her first career stakes victory in the $75,000 Miss Disco.
The fifth renewal of the Miss Disco for 3-year-old fillies and the 29th running of the Star de Naskra for 3-year-olds were among four $75,000 stakes restricted to Maryland-bred/sired horses on a 10-race program headlined by the $100,000 Deputed Testamony for 3-year-olds and up.
Ridden by Victor Carrasco, Divine Huntress ($3.20) completed seven furlongs in 1:24.23 over a fast main track to give trainer Graham Motion his second win in the Miss Disco following Majestic Reason in 2018. Majestic Reason would go on to win two more stakes at Laurel including the 2020 Barbara Fritchie (G3) in her career finale.
“Turning her back to seven-eighths was always a question, but I thought she was game to do it,” Motion said. “We just had to ride her more aggressively because she’s been coming off these [longer] races. I think we probably took her out of her game a little bit by doing that, but she handled it. She’s a nice filly.”
It was the first win for Divine Huntress since taking a Jan. 19 optional claimer at Parx in her 3-year-old debut. She had been facing graded-stakes company in her previous four starts, finishing fifth to Interstatedaydream in the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 20 at Pimlico and second behind Matareya in the one-mile Acorn (G1) June 11 at Belmont Park.
“Even by a nose, it was good to get her back here. It’s been a while,” co-owner and breeder and her former trainer Rick Buckley said. “She had a long spring with a lot of good fillies she was up against. It’s nice to be back in the winner’s circle.
“After Belmont we talked about a few things. We wanted to give her a little break and freshen her up a little bit. She’d had a couple really tough-fought races back-to-back against the best fillies in the country,” he added. “We looked for what we thought would be an easier spot. It’s never easy when you’re running in black type races and this seemed to be the right fit.”
Little Bit of That, making her stakes debut, broke sharply and quickly established the lead going a quarter-mile in 23.36 seconds with Petition Prayer to her outside and Divine Huntress in the clear in third. Sweet Gracie moved up along the rail to get into second as Little Bit of That went a half in 46.18, with Divine Huntress poised three wide.
Divine Huntress moved past Little Bit of That at the top of the stretch but Sweet Gracie was a determined foe inside, and the two raced to the wire together as Petition Prayer came flying with a late run but finished third, a neck behind Sweet Gracie followed by Dry Well and Little Bit of That. Royal Whisper and Charming Way were scratched.
“We didn’t take the race too lightly. We kind of figured it was going to be a little bit of a battle. It was just going to be who showed up today,” Buckley said. “We thought Petition Prayer was going to be pretty formidable and she was. She was there throughout. It was a little spooky when [Sweet Gracie] came rocking up in there. It looked like it was going to be a bit of a battle and it was a battle, but that’s what racing’s all about.”
Bred in Maryland by Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Miss Disco was a multiple stakes winner during her racing career but is best known as the dam of Hall of Famer Bold Ruler, winner of the Preakness (G1) and Horse of the Year in 1957 and sire of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. She was named Broodmare of the Year in 1958.