Slam Dunk Racing’s Madam Dancealot had been well beaten in her prior two-turn attempts, but after learning to relax better, the Richard Baltas trainee surprised Sunday’s $201,035 San Clemente H. (G2) at Del Mar. Under patient handling by new rider Jamie Theriot, the 21-1 shot went last to first over Lull and hitherto unbeaten Sircat Sally, who was vanned off the course with a reportedly career-ending injury.
Belmont Park shipper Lull was regarded as the biggest threat to 7-5 favorite Sircat Sally, and the 9-5 second choice attempted to make the most of her early speed. Grabbing command through an opening quarter in :23.17 on the firm turf, Lull established a comfortable advantage while rattling off fractions of :46.31 and 1:10.55. Sircat Sally, biding her time in fourth early under top weight of 125 pounds, made headway down the lane but couldn’t quite bridge the gap.
Madam Dancealot, in contrast, was gathering good-looking momentum. Rolling out wide, the Irish-bred daughter of Sir Prancealot won going away by 1 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:34.75 for the mile.
Lull held second by a half-length from Sircat Sally. Unfortunately, all was not right with the favorite.
Jockey Drayden Van Dyke, sensing something amiss on the gallop-out, took quick action that may have prevented further injury.
“I pulled her up on the backside and got off her,” Van Dyke said. “It felt to me like she was maybe a little off in her right front. It didn’t seem to be anything serious, but I didn’t want to take any chances. She usually gives me a big kick at the end, but it wasn’t there today. Maybe something was going on during the race, though she didn’t show it. I think she’s going to be OK.”
Brought back to the Jerry Hollendorfer barn for evaluation, Sircat Sally was diagnosed with a fractured sesamoid, according to Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman. The Blood-Horse’s Jeremy Balan further reported that surgery would be performed, and that Joe Turner is retiring his homebred. Sircat Sally entered the San Clemente with a perfect seven-for-seven mark, highlighted by victories in the Honeymoon (G2), Senorita (G3), Providencia (G3), China Doll, California Cup Oaks, and last December’s Soviet Problem on the Los Alamitos dirt.
Madame Dancealot had tangled with Sircat Sally once before, fading to 10th in the one-mile China Doll at Santa Anita. Her distance limitations had apparently been exposed over the same track and trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), where she wound up 13th in her U.S. premiere. The chestnut fared much better sprinting on the Santa Anita turf. A closing fourth in the Sweet Life in her first foray down the hill, she won an allowance and was most recently runner-up to Kenda in the June 11 Special Goddess. Kenda also tried to stretch out in the San Clemente, only to tire to fifth after chasing Lull.
“The way she was finishing the last two races on the grass down the hill at Santa Anita, I thought she could get a mile,” Baltas said of Madam Dancealot. “She’s settled now, she’s relaxed and when she was last down the backside, I was like ‘Wow.’ I know she can run and when a good horse gets settled like that they’re going to run at the end, and she did.”
“No special instructions here,” Theriot recapped. “I just rode the race as it came up. The key with her was to get her to relax. She’s coming off races down the hillside and she’s got speed, but she needed to relax. I worked her last week and she relaxed fine for me, so I was feeling good coming into this race. When we turned for home, I thought she was really going to finish strong for me. And she surely did.”
Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., who rode Lull, also complimented the winner’s kick.
“The plan actually was to take her (Lull) back and cover her up. But she broke so well and nobody else was going, so I just let her run along up there. She was going easy and turning for home I thought I was a winner. But that other filly (Madam Dancealot) was really motoring and she just went on by.”
Previously trained by Joseph Tuite in England, Madame Dancealot had mixed it up in good company. She was second to the good colt Mehmas on debut at Chester, ninth to Lady Aurelia in the Queen Mary (G2), and seventh to Fair Eva in the Princess Margaret (G3) before notching a first stakes win in the Dick Poole Fillies’ S. (G3) at Salisbury. For more details on her juvenile campaign and sales history, see the Breeders’ Cup Internationals scouting report.
The Tally-Ho Stud-bred Madam Dancealot is out of the winning Danehill mare Sisal, from the further family of Group 2 hero and smart hurdler Alderbrook, Group 3 scorer Restructure, and multiple stakes victor and Grade 2-placed Royal Strand.
Baltas indicated that Madam Dancealot would try to handle another furlong in the August 19 Del Mar Oaks (G1).