Spice Is Nice
Spice Is Nice won the Grade 3 Allaire DuPont Distaff. Photo by Allison Janezic.

Little girls, the old rhyme says, are made of suger and spice and all that’s nice.

But like the little girl with the little curl, Spice Is Nice has been very good — when she was good. And when she was bad? She’s been, well, horrid.

Friday on a picture-perfect day at Pimlico Race Course, the Todd Pletcher-trained Spice Is Nice was very good, indeed, outslugging Dreamalildreamofu to win the Grade 3 Allaire Du Pont Distaff, earn the first stakes win of her career, and kick off the 2021 MATCH Series in style.

Spice Is Nice, a four-year-old Curlin filly, kicked off her career with a 12-length triumph at first asking in January 2020 and was a good second next out in the Grade 2 Davona Dale. Since, however, she’s interspersed a pair of allowance wins with a pair of up-the-track finishes in graded stakes company.

The most recent of those saw her finish sixth by almost 40 lengths in the Grade 1 Alabama last August.

“After the Alabama last year, she just lost some weight and we needed to regroup and gave her some time off,” Pletcher said. “It seems like it has paid dividends.”

The good-bad streak — and her winless skein in stakes company — came to an end in style today. Under jockey John Velazquez, Spice Is Nice broke alertly to press the pace of Dreamalildreamofu, the Brad Cox trainee who went off at 10-1.

The duo were heads apart after the opening half-mile went by in 47.62 seconds, with Dreamalildreamofu holding the short advantage. The margin was still a head, albeit with positions flipped, after three quarters in 1:11.15.

“We though we might as well come out of there running and get a position,” Velazquez explained. “I ended up having the lead by the time we got to the backstretch. She was doing it comfortably, so I was pleased with the way she was doing it.”

The pair put some space between themselves and the rest of the field in the fourth quarter-mile but still were separated by just a half-length. Finally in the final furlong Spice Is Nice inched away to win by 1 1/2 lengths, with Dreamalildreamofu another two lengths in front of show horse Getridofwhatailesu. Favored Horologist flattened out in the lane to be fourth.

Spice Is Nice paid $6.60 to win and topped an exacta that returned $29.10 for a buck. The winner’s share of the $150,000 purse gave Spice Is Nice, who now owns four wins from seven starts, career earnings of $254,528.

Those earnings, however, are just a down payment on her initial cost. Robert and Lawana Low picked her up at the Keeneland September yearling sale for a cool $1,050,000. By Curlin, she is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Bernardini mare Dame Dorothy, a Pennsylvania-bred who also was trained by Pletcher.

“She’s a filly we’ve always thought a lot of,” Pletcher said. “I trained her mother. She’s a big, strong filly that took a little time to get it all together.”

While Pletcher’s charge earned the top spot, trainer Brad Cox’s pair ran two-three.