John Oxley's homebred filly Dream Dancing scored the biggest victory of her career on Saturday, fighting down the length of the stretch to nail a blanket finish over Beau Recall and Madam Dancealot in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. The 3-year-old daughter of Tapit, ridden by Julien Leparoux for trainer Mark Casse, covered nine furlongs over the firm turf course in 1:48.06.
“There was a very good pace up front, which she likes,” said Casse assistant Julie Stormfelt. “She has more than one run and a very good kick and when I saw her coming down the stretch I was just screaming, very happy. This is my first time travelling with a horse and it's nice to be a winner.”
Dream Dancing was near the rear of the field for the early part of the Del Mar Oaks, as far back as third-from-last and at least 10 lengths off the pacesetting Blame It On Alphie. Through fractions of :23.61, :47.27 and 1:11.63, Blame It On Alphie led the field, but as she tried to take a breather approaching the far turn, the field began to compress just behind her.
Meadowsweet, who'd tracked the pace throughout, took the lead at the head of the lane but faded quickly. Leparoux and Dream Dancing were tracking the movements of Beau Recall around the far turn, and in the last part of the bend both angled out to be five and six-wide, respectively, straightening for home. Madam Dancealot bulled her way through the pack to strike the lead at the same time as Beau Recall.
For the final sixteenth of a mile, the leading trio was made up of Madam Dancealot closest to the rail, then Beau Recall between horses and Dream Dancing on the grandstand side. The outermost pair had about a head's advantage over Madam Dancealot. Beau Recall had the lead for every jump except that last one at the wire, when Dream Dancing's final nod won her the photo finish. Madam Dancealot was just a head back in third, and the favored Con Te Partiro finished fourth.
“No special instructions from Mark,” Leparoux said. “The last time I rode her, I asked her at the three-eighths and she got a little weary at the end. This time I tried to wait as long as I could and she was still strong at the finish. This feels good; a win is a win, no matter where you get it.”
Bred in Kentucky by her owner, Dream Dancing is out of the unraced Monarchos mare To Dream About, also bred by Oxley. In turn, To Dream About is out of 1999 Eclipse Award winner Beautiful Pleasure, a six-time Grade 1 winner by Maudlin. Oxley purchased Beautiful Pleasure as a juvenile at Keeneland for $480,000, and raced her under the care of trainer John Ward to earn over $2.7 million in the late 1990's.
Dream Dancing broke her maiden in her second start, then won again in the G3 Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream Park. She has been relatively consistently placed in graded company since, but the Del Mar Oaks is her first top-level victory. Overall, Dream Dancing's record stands at 4-2-1 from 12 starts, with earnings of over $400,000.
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