ERES TU GUNNING FOR G3 DUPONT DISTAFF
Edward Seltzer and Beverly Anderson’s Grade 2-placed Eres Tu, unbeaten in two starts since returning from more a year layoff, goes after her third straight win and second in a stakes in the $150,000 Allaire du Pont (G3) Saturday, Dec. 26 at Laurel Park.
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The 27th running of the 1 1/8-mile du Pont for fillies and mares 3 and up, traditionally contested over Preakness (G1) weekend, was moved following racing’s return from the coronavirus pause to serve as the headliner on a Christmastide Day program featuring eight stakes worth $850,000 in purses.
Joining the du Pont are four juvenile stakes – the $100,000 Gin Talking for fillies and $100,000 Heft, both sprinting seven furlongs, and $100,000 Anne Arundel County for fillies and $100,000 Howard County, each at about 1 1/16 miles.
Sprinters 3 and up will go six furlongs in the $100,000 Willa On the Move for females and $100,000 Dave’s Friend, while the $100,000 Native Dancer for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles rounds out the stakes action. First race post time is 12:25 p.m.
Eres Tu went winless in three starts as a 3-year-old in 2019, running second to Needs Supervision in the Silverbulletday Stakes, third to subsequent Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Serengeti Empress in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) and fourth in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) behind Street Band, who would go on to capture the Cotillion (G1).
The 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon got a long break following the Fair Grounds Oaks and was moved from Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen to Fair Hill (Md.) Training Center-based Arnaud Delacour, who stayed patient bringing Eres Tu back to the races.
“I got her early in the summer, and she looked great. She’s a big filly; she’s 17 hands at least. Right away I really liked her,” Delacour said. “Everything she did before me she probably wasn’t at her best because she’s so big. She probably needed a little bit of time, so the owner gave her plenty of time and she came back really strong. She filled out nicely and to me she’s a very nice prospect.”
Eres Tu, whose name translates to ‘It’s You’ in Spanish, worked steadily for her return, which came in a 1 1/16-mile entry-level allowance Oct. 14 at Keeneland – her first start in 19 months. Under Ricardo Santana Jr., she rated off just off the lead before taking over at the top of the stretch and going on to win by 2 ¼ lengths.
“I was not surprised because when you look at her form when she was with Steve Asmussen before, she ran against some Grade 1 fillies,” Delacour said. “She ran against Street Band, she ran against the winner of the Oaks that year. You’re talking about solid horses she had to face and be competitive with, so I was pretty confident she could produce a good performance when she came back.”
Eres Tu made her Laurel debut in the 1 1/16-mile Thirty Eight Go Go Nov. 28, where she was overlooked at nearly 5-1 odds. Ridden by Trevor McCarthy, who gets a return call from Post 4, she stalked the leader for a half-mile, took over and opened up before cruising to the wire 1 ½ lengths in front while under wraps.
“She obviously has a good cruising speed and she can keep going. That’s kind of what you want when you go two turns on the dirt,” Delacour said. “I’m pretty happy that we’re going even longer, a mile and an eighth, because I think she’ll be even more efficient. But, that’s only a guess. She needs to confirm that.”
Five of Eres Tu’s rivals also have graded-stakes experience led by Farfellow Farm Ltd.’s Another Broad. Purchased for $340,000 out of last November’s Keeneland breeding stock sale and moved to Asmussen, she is winless with four thirds in seven 2020 starts having most recently finished third behind Grade 2 winners Envoutante and Bonny South in the 1 1/8-mile Falls City (G2) on Thanksgiving Day.
Fourth in last year’s du Pont for previous trainer Todd Pletcher, Another Broad will break from Post 2 under Johan Rosado.
Flying P Stable, R. A. Hill Stable and trainer Danny Gargan’s Ice Princess enters the du Pont off a runner-up finish behind Mrs. Danvers in the 1 1/8-mile Comely (G3) Nov. 27 at Aqueduct. The daughter of Grade 1 winner Palace Malice won the Maddie May Feb. 23 and was beaten a neck when second in the Fleet Indian Sept. 4, both against fellow New York-breds.
“She should have won the race at Saratoga. She had a really bad trip,” Gargan said. “She got stuck down on the inside and she doesn’t like to be on the inside of horses. That’s her big thing. She likes to be outside. But she’s really never done anything wrong.”
Ice Princess has been first or second in four of her five 2020 starts, the lone exception coming when ninth to subsequent Preakness (G1) winner Swiss Skydiver in the Fantasy (G3) May 1 at Oaklawn Park.
“I shipped her to Oaklawn in a last-minute ditch effort because covid hit and everything got canceled in New York,” Gargan said. “She got on a van and went all the way from New York to there and it just didn’t work out for her. It was probably a bad decision just trying to make something happen. It didn’t work out for us there, but she’s always done pretty good.”
Ice Princess got some time off following the Fantasy and nearly won the Fleet Indian in her first start in four months. Victor Carrasco is named to ride from Post 5.
“She was a nice 2-year-old. She didn’t get to run much this year because after the Oaklawn race I sent her and turned her out and they kind of canceled some races I was pointing toward,” Gargan said. “I didn’t run her much before and we skipped a couple races because they were a little too short for her so I think the distance is never going to be a problem. She’ll run all day.”
Howling Pigeon Farms, Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Madaket Stables’ Needs Supervision is a two-time stakes winner, having beaten Eres Tu in the Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds and returning home to capture the seven-furlong Safely Kept last November at Laurel Park.
Based with trainer Jerry O’Dwyer at Laurel, where she owns a record of 2-2-2 from seven starts, Needs Supervision has run in 10 consecutive stakes including a third last out in Laurel’s six-furlong Primonetta Nov. 28, her first start in 8 ½ months.
“I was a bit disappointed she was laying so far out of it early on. It took her a while to find her feet and get going and come home, but she came home well so I was glad to see that,” O’Dwyer said. “That’s why I’m opting to go back to two turns with her. She’s won [at] over a mile and 70 [yards] as a 2-year-old and she seems to have a good engine in her. I think she can carry it, so we’re going to stretch her out.”
By 2012 Haskell (G1) winner Paynter, Needs Supervision will race for the first time with blinkers, O’Dwyer said. Fall meet-leading rider Sheldon Russell, up for her comeback race, has the assignment from outside post 7.
“She’s been training good,” O’Dwyer said. “I do have the blinkers on her now. I’m putting them on her to help her relax and focus in that sense. We’ve had them on her in the morning and she’s pretty relaxed in them, which is nice. So, we’re going to put them on her and help her because she gets a little high-strung at times.”
Completing the field are Alittlelesstalk, a multiple stakes winner at Emerald Downs; Landing Zone, who had a four-race win streak snapped when third in the Safely Kept Nov. 28 at Laurel; and Wicked Awesome, winner of Laurel’s 1 1/16-mile Twixt Stakes Sept. 5.