Havre de Grace, here with owner Rick Porter. Photo by Teresa Genaro.

Whisper Hill Farm’s Graceful Princess is among fourteen entered in the $100,000 Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park this Wednesday, June 9. The mile and a sixteenth affair is the local prep for the filly and mare summer classic – the mile-and-a-quarter Grade II Delaware Handicap to be run on Saturday, July 10.

Graceful Princess is a daughter of the 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace.  Havre de Grace, who broke her maiden at Delaware Park in 2009, won the Obeah Stakes before finishing second beaten a nose against her archrival Blind Luck in the Delaware Handicap in 2011.  Tapit, the sire of Graceful Princess, broke his maiden at Delaware Park in 2003 before winning the 2004 Wood Memorial.

In her only outing this year, Graceful Princess finished third beaten a neck in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Grade 3 Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland in April 16.

“She has trained very well since the Doubledogdare,” said her trainer Todd Pletcher. “That was a huge effort and we are optimistic coming in.”

Last year, the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred had one win from four starts. Her career record is two wins, a second and a third from 11 starts with earnings of $108,474.

Todd Pletcher has won the Obeah Stakes five times – Isola Piu Bella in 2005, Fleet Indian in 2006, Unbridled Belle in 2008 and 2009, and Love and Pride in 2012.  Pletcher has used the Obeah Stakes as a prep for three of his record-equaling four Delaware Handicap victories. In 2001, Irving’s Baby ran third in the Obeah Stakes before winning the Delaware Handicap; in 2006, Fleet Indian won the Obeah Stakes before winning the DelCap; and in 2007, Unbridled Belle ran second in the Obeah Stakes before her Delaware Handicap score. In 2010, Life at Ten did not run in the Obeah Stakes before winning the Delaware Handicap.

The race is named in honor of the two-time Delaware Handicap winner in 1969 and 1970 and the dam of the Hall of Fame filly Go For Wand who was locally owned by Jane and Harry duPont’s Christiana Stable. Horses finishing first, second, third or fourth in the Obeah Stakes will automatically earn a free nomination to the Delaware Handicap.

Since the Obeah Stakes was inaugurated in 1996, only the 2006 older female champion Fleet Indian and I’m a Chatterbox, who won the race in 2016, have won the race and followed with a victory in the Delaware Handicap. Two fillies have finished second in the Obeah and won the Delaware Handicap. They were Unbridled Belle in 2007 and Power Play in 1997. Three winners of the Obeah Stakes have followed by running second in the Delaware Handicap. They were 2011 Horse of the year Havre de Grace, Your Out in 2002 and Under the Rug in 2001.