by Ted Black

While much of the nation was focused on Pimlico Race Course and the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of Thoroughbred racing’s triple crown, a pair of other tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region offered stakes races and a third presented an allowance race that could have easily passed for a stakes.

Saturday afternoon marked the opening day of the Delaware Park meet and the track offered two divisions of the fifth edition of the Our Mims Stakes for three-year-old fillies at one mile. Upsets and fillies with speed proved to be the rule in the divided stakes once around the Delaware Park oval.

In the first, $50,000 division of the Our Mims, Missy Rules (Jose Caraballo) used her early speed to gain command soon after the break, and the Florida-bred daughter of Peace Rules led throughout to post an 8-1 upset while covering the one mile distance in 1:38.88. It was the first win in four starts this year for Missy Rules, trained by Randy Nunley for the Porter Racing Stable and her fourth win in 10 career outings, pushing her lifetime earnings past $125,000.

Then in the second, $50,000 division of the Our Mims, a similar scenario unfolded as Ile St. Molly gained command along the rail through the clubhouse turn and kept Disco Barbie at bay through the lane for a length score in a snappy 1:37.19. A sophomore daughter of Ile St. Louis out an Awesome Again mare trained by Kenny Smith for owner-breeder James Glover, Ile St. Molly notched her second win in four starts this year and her third win in six career outings, boosting her lifetime earnings past $104,000.

That same afternoon at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, Za Approval (Joe Bravo) continued his good recent form when he rallied from midpack to prevail as the 8-5 favorite in the Grade III, $100,000 Red Bank Stakes on the grass. The five-year-old Ghostzapper gelding trained by Christophe Clemente for owner Live Oak Plantation posted his second straight graded stakes score, having previously won the Grade III Appleton Stakes at Gulfstream Park, and notched his third win in four starts this year by covering the mile on the Monmouth lawn in 1:34.57.

Later that evening at Charles Town, a compact but talented trio of horses went postward in a two-turn, state-bred allowance that easily could have passed for a stakes race thanks to the presence of defending West Virginia Breeders Classics champion and reigning West Virginia-bred horse of the year, Lucy’s Bob Boy, and durable, millionaire Russell Road, a virtual household name in the Eastern Panhandle of the Mountain State.

Soon after the gate opened in the seven-furlong allowance event, Lucy’s Bob Boy broke alertly to gain command along the rail, while Russell Road sat just off the leader.  Tup Take Please trailed and never reached contention. Lucy’s Bob Boy kept Russell Road at bay through the clubhouse turn and down the backside, and then the favorite sprinted clear in the lane to a four-length score in 1:22.73.

Lucy’s Bob Boy maintained his perfect start to the campaign by posting his fifth win in as many starts this year and he now owns 13 wins in 16 career outings with over $500,000 banked for trainer Sandra Dono and owner Michael Furr. Lucy’s Bob Boy and Russell Road had split their two meetings last fall, and the two will likely meet again several more times this summer and fall.

Russell Road suffered his second setback in three starts this year and he now boasts a solid 22-5-4 slate and earnings of over $1.3 million from 35 lifetime starts for trainer James W. Casey and owner Mark Russell. Russell Road made the first two starts of his current campaign at Mountaineer Park in the Northern panhandle of West Virginia, but he was upended in his local return by a younger, speedier rival who may have an equal fondness for the Charles Town strip.