DREAM MARIE RALLIES TO OBEAH STAKES WIN
Rains came early in Delaware Park’s Wednesday card, a sudden, ferocious storm driving racing off the turf and turning the main track from fast to sloppy in a matter of minutes.
But they couldn’t dampen the spirits of trainer Matthew Williams, not after he’d watched the best horse he’s trained, Dream Marie, rally to an upset in the $100,000 Obeah Stakes, the local prep for Grade 2 Delaware Handicap July 10.
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Dream Marie had run last in back-to-back races entering the Obeah, so bettors had good reason to be skeptical, sending her off at 8-1 odds.
But Williams said he expected his charge, a daughter of Graydar, to run well this afternoon.
“I think she really likes being here at Delaware,” Williams explained. “She ran really well here last year — she ran second in the [Grade 3 Delaware] Oaks — and she’d been training really well.”
In her lone prior visit to Delaware — also ridden by Bravo that day — Dream Marie had been second beaten just a half-length by longshot Project Whiskey.
Today — in a race that saw seven scratches halve the field — Bravo had his mount biding her time in last in the early going. falling nine lengths behind the early pace of 53-1 outsider Shyza, who led the field through a quarter-mile in 23.07 seconds, the half gone in 47.20.
Bravo steered her to the outside midway on the backstretch, and she began what became a prolonged wide move. Even before the five-sixteenths, Shyza began to give way, and Miss Marissa was quick to pounce, leading after six furlongs in 1:11.58.
But Dream Marie was closing in earnest, and she powered to a nearly-two-length victory in 1:44.40 for 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy, sealed main track.
“She really likes this course,” Bravo said. “The last time she was on this course, she was a very game second within a heartbeat of winning. Today, as I was expecting, when she turned for home, she really kicked in nicely.”
Williams said the trip Bravo gave his four-year-old filly was key to her success.
“She likes being on the outside going,” the trainer explained. “When she’s down on the inside, taking the dirt, she doesn’t run a lick.”
Miss Marissa, winner of last fall’s Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico, held second, while Market Rumor rallied into third. Post time favorite Bajan Girl pressed the pace early but faded to fourth, while Graceful Princess, out of the 2011 Obeah winner Havre de Grace, finished fifth.
Dream Marie paid $19.40 to win and topped an exacta that returned $90.90 for a one-dollar wager. She now has five wins from 20 career starts, and the winner’s share pushed her to $297,420 in earnings.
Dream Marie was a $25,000 auction purchase by owners Miracle’s International Trading, Inc. as a two-year-old in training. Later that same year, in her third start, she dropped into $20,000 maiden claiming company to earn her diploma.
After two more wins, she spent most of her three-year-old season in stakes company, earning placings in the Grade 2 Davona Dale, Grade 3 Delaware Oaks, and Grade 3 Rampart. She also ran credible races when fourth in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, fifth in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan, and fifth again in the Grade 2 Inside Information.
But this past February, she was up the track in the Grade 2 Royal Delta at Gulfstream, and Williams gave her a couple months off. She returned to finish fifth in a starter allowance, though Williams said he was not as disappointed as one might have expected.
“She ran last last time, but that was against boys,” Williams explained. “She ran the time I expected her to run in that race; she ran 1:37 [for the mile]. Those horses ran that the month before, so it was surprising to me the winner ended up going in 1:34.”
She’d continued to train well in the time since, posting three strong workouts. And Wednesday at Delaware, she brought her good morning form into the afternoon.
Williams said that, though the mile-and-a-quarter distance of the Delaware Handicap gives him pause, he’ll be giving serious consideration to bringing Dream Marie back to Stanton.
“It’s definitely under consideration,” he said. “It’s a mile-and-a-quarter, so I’ll have to think about it. But she really likes it here at Delaware.”