Award Wanted scores Obeah Stakes upset

Sometimes, when horses go to the front, they forget to stop.

Such was the case with Award Wanted Saturday afternoon in the $150,000 Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park. Award Wanted, off at 18-1, dueled with Traverse through sluggish early fractions, kicked clear nearing the stretch, and then had just enough to hold off a desperate late bid from favored Morning Matcha.

“I told [Cruz] to go ahead and ride it the way it came up, and he said nobody wanted the lead, so he took it,” said winning trainer John Robb afterwards.

The victory was the second stakes win for the six-year-old Maryland-bred mare, a daughter of Macho Uno owned by Robb and his wife Gina’s No Guts No Glory Farm in partnership with Erica Upton. She had won the Geisha for Maryland-breds earlier this year at Laurel Park.

Robb and the owners had claimed Award Wanted in February 2021 for the bargain price of $16,000. She won that day for her former connections and has won now eight times since the claim. In all she has 10 wins from 35 career starts and earnings of $487,950.

“She was just consistent,” Robb said of the decision to drop the claim slip on her. “It was a two-life race, but she was right there every time and looked like she wanted to go a little longer, so we took the shot with her.”


It’s a shot that’s continued to pay dividends.

In today’s contest, Award Wanted broke sharply and then settled inside. Though she had company, it wasn’t exactly pressure; the opening half-mile took 49.93 seconds to complete, and the field traveled three quarters in 1:15.42. While Award Wanted and Traverse raced in each other’s hip pockets, it was just about three lengths farther back to Morning Matcha, who raced inside.

Award Wanted
Award Wanted (inside) held off Morning Matcha in the Obeah Stakes. Photo by

Rounding the turn, Award Wanted kicked away from Traverse, who would fade to last, and turned for home with a clear advantage. But when Morning Matcha found clear running on the outside, she made a determined late bid that fell just a nose short. It was more than seven lengths farther back to show horse Hybrid Eclipse.

Running time for the 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track was a slow 1:49.28. Robb thought that might have played into his hands, as his mare has been training over the strip.

“I wouldn’t say I was confident, but I know this track’s really heavy right now,” the trainer said. “We’ve trained over it, and I think that’s a big advantage.”

Award Wanted returned $38.00 to her relatively few backers. The exacta, with the 3-10 favorite underneath, paid $48.60 for a one-dollar wager.

The Obeah provides the top four finishers free entry to the track’s signature event, the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap, set to take place July 8. But Robb was making no commitments.

“We’ll definitely do like we did with this and take a look at it,” he said.