Divine Huntress narrowly best in Miss Disco

Heading into the latest renewal of the $75,000 Miss Disco Stakes for Maryland-bred three-year-old fillies on Saturday afternoon, the first of five stakes on the card, much of the attention was focused on Divine Huntress who had spent much of the campaign facing graded stakes foes and was promptly made the 3-5 choice following a runner-up effort in the Grade I Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park.

Divine Huntress may have had to work harder than her backers or her connections might have expected, but the sophomore daughter of Divining Rod eventually wore down Sweet Gracie for a nose victory, while Petition Prayer was just another neck back in third.

Divine Huntress, who covered the seven furlongs on the main track in 1:24.23, notched her second win from six starts this year and third victory in eight lifetime outings to push her lifetime earnings past $230,000.

“That was just pure guts,” said Rick Buckley, the filly’s original trainer and co-breeder along with Dr. Tom Bowman, wife Chris Bowman and Joshua Dreiband. “That was a gutsy victory. This was the ideal spot for her. I’ve always thought that the one-turn seven furlong and one-turn mile races were her best distance.” 

Buckley was the filly’s initial trainer when she rallied to finish third in her career debut over a muddy track at Laurel Park then saddled her to her diploma when she captured a seven-furlong maiden special weight event as he 5-2 favorite at Parx, Buckley, who races as Long Valley Stables LLC, sold majority interest in her soon thereafter, and new owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.sent her to trainer Graham Motion.

In her first start for Motion, Divine Huntress romped home nearly 13 lengths clear to capture a two-turn allowance at Parx, which prompted her connections to put her in the deep water. She then finished ninth in the Grade II Rachel Alexandra Stakes at the Fair Grounds.

“Really, her only disappointing effort was in the Rachel Alexandra,” said Buckley, who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with his wife, Stacey, that week. “But we’ve always wanted to try her against those type of fillies and see how well she would do going one-mile and an eighth.” 

Following the Rachel Alexandra, Divine Huntress, a daughter of Divining Rod, ran well when fifth in the Grade 3 Gazelle and fourth in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan going two turns. Then, going a one-turn mile, she finished second in the Grade 1 Acorn.

“She has not ducked anyone this season,” Buckley said. “She ran well in the Acorn and well in the Black-Eyed Susan before that.”

Less than a week earlier, jockey Victor Carrasco had ventured to Fair Hill to work her five furlongs in 1:01 ⅗. On Saturday. Carrasco was able to keep the odds-on favorite clear and out of trouble down the backside, then vigorously urged her home to a gritty tally over Sweet Gracie.

“First of all, I am grateful to Graham and the owners for giving me the opportunity to ride this filly,” Carrasco said. “Breaking from the seven post, I knew she would be able to stay clear down the backside. Turning for home I thought she had plenty left. I had to work a little bit harder than I expected in the lane. But she was going to let that filly inside of her go by her. She dug in and responded for me in the lane.”

Divine Huntress paid $3.20 to win as the 3-5 post time favorite. The exacta, with the longest shot on the board in second, returned $9.40 for a one-dollar wager.

Divine Huntress
Divine Huntress won the Miss Disco Stakes with Sweet Gracie (inside, hidden) second and Petition Prayer (#6) third. Photo Jim McCue.