The 5-year-old Tapit mare is a Kentucky homebred out of 2011 Horse of the Year and champion older mare Havre de Grace . Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill purchased Havre de Grace in 2012 for $10 million out of Taylor Made Sales Agency’s consignment to The November Sale, Fasig-Tipton’s premier breeding stock sale in Kentucky.
Joel Rosario was aboard Graceful Princess as the pair pulled off a 14-1 upset in the 1 1/16-mile event for fillies and mares. The victory marked a sweep of the first three graded stakes on the TVG.com Haskell Stakes (G1) undercard for Rosario after he took the WinStar Matchmaker (G3T) with Great Island and the Monmouth Cup (G3) with Dr Post . Todd Pletcher trains both Graceful Princess and Dr Post.
“It’s always nice to ride for Todd. I don’t think she has run quite this well before but today she was ready and she won a tough race and proved she was ready for this kind of company,” Rosario said after the Molly Pitcher. “The pace was perfect. I found a spot outside and she was clear and it looked like she liked being there. After that it was all her. She looked like she was enjoying herself out there. It was a very good performance.
“I came into today thinking I had some chances but you don’t know. You have to have the right horses.”
Graceful Princess broke from the outside in a field scratched to eight after Bank Sting was restless in the gate, turned herself around, and broke through backward. Rosario settled his mount in fourth and three wide as Mrs. Danvers set opening fractions of :24.02 and :46.99. Our Super Freak chased in second and Bajan Girl in third.
Mrs. Danvers gave way after the first half-mile and Our Super Freak surged forward to take the lead, racing six furlongs in 1:10.90. Bajan Girl was a stubborn foe and battled with Our Super Freak down the lane, then Graceful Princess ($31) found her best stride and wore down the foes in front of her. The final time on the fast track was 1:41.67.
Graceful Princess (left) wins the Molly Pitcher Stakes at Monmouth Park
“She’s had a couple of poor performances on off tracks so we weren’t sure (about her), other than she came back and trained well,” Pletcher said. “She’s always been a filly who trained like she was capable of doing something like this, so it’s great to see her put it all together. She’s arguably one of the best-bred fillies on the planet. For her to win a race like this is huge.”
Graceful Princess opened this season with a third in the April 16 Baird Doubledogdare Stakes (G3) at Keeneland before finishing fifth on a sloppy track in the June 9 Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park. The Molly Pitcher victory improved her record to 3-1-2 from 13 starts. She has earned $261,474.
Bajan Girl got up for second a half-length ahead of Our Super Freak in third. It was 7 1/4 lengths back to Thankful , who was followed home by 2-1 favorite Vault , Water White , Reina La Kelsy , and Mrs. Danvers.
Havre de Grace has produced seven foals, with three winners from four to race. Her youngest progeny include Saint Tapit, an unraced 2-year-old Tapit colt who registered two works in June at Whisper Hill Training Center, and a Justify colt born March 17. Graceful Princess is her first stakes winner.