Moysey hopes Red Hot Mess is a Dashing Beauty

Chelsey Moysey
Chelsey Moysey, John Hiraldo, and Red Hot Mess after the White Clay Creek. Photo

Trainer Chelsey Moysey’s decision to run Red Hot Mess in the Rehoboth Stakes June 5 at Delaware Park was a simple one, really.

There wasn’t much chance her five-year-old Shackleford mare could win; Alva Starr was 1-20 and won about like that. But in just a four-horse field, there was plenty of reason to think she could finish in the money, earning a stakes-placing, a decent-sized check, and black-type that makes her a more valuable broodmare.

Mission accomplished: Red Hot Mess finished second, and while she was nearly 10 behind the winner, she was also almost eight clear of the show horse.

“I was happy, and I was really proud of her,” Moysey said. “I was thrilled with her.”

She’d like to be even more thrilled with her come Sunday evening. Red Hot Mess, owned by Lewis Mathews, Jr., is 12-1 on the morning line in Sunday’s $125,000 Dashing Beauty Stakes at Delaware Park. The six-furlong Dashing Beauty, for fillies and mares, is the seventh race on a 10-race program topped by the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap.

Post time for the first on both Saturday and Sunday is 12:30 p.m.

The field is topped by the Jorge Delgado-trained Olivia Darling. The Grade 2 winner saw a streak of three straight strong performances against graded company snapped last out when she was up the track in the Grade 1 Derby City Distaff on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

If Olivia Darling brings her “A” game, she should win the Dashing Beauty with ease. If not? Then things get a little interesting.

“Just a three-other-than” allowance is how Moysey sees it, albeit one with a sizable purse and awarding black type to the winner.

Regular pilot John Hiraldo will ride Red Hot Mess, who is 12-1 on the morning line and will leave from the outside post in a nine-horse field. Other contenders include Goodgirl Badhabits (6-1), Jersey Pearl (6-1), Beguine (7-2), and Everyoneloveslinda (8-1).

It’s been quite a journey for trainer and horse. At two back in 2021, Red Hot Mess broke her maiden and then won the White Clay Creek in consecutive starts, both at Delaware Park. 

But she missed much of her three-year-old season, not making her first start until August in a Delaware allowance, which she won. But after making five starts in a roughly 6 ½-month period, Red Hot Mess then fractured a sesamoid, necessitating months on the sideline. 

Moysey and owner Lewis Mathews, Jr. considered, once her rehab was complete, selling her as a broodmare. But her pedigree didn’t scream sale horse – Mathews had paid just $20,000 for her at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic two-year-olds in training sale in 2021 – and while she’s been a useful horse, her resume wasn’t flashy enough to make her more valuable.

What to do?

“I called him one day and she was doing great,” Moysey said. “I said, ‘If you don’t want to give her away for a cheap price at public auction, let’s try to put her back in training.’”

They did, and, Moysey said, they’ve been “really diligent” about monitoring Red Hot Mess’s physical condition and mental status.

“She gives me all the signs she didn’t want to retire,” Moysey said. “She wants to keep doing it.”

The Rehoboth was her first start back in nearly 16 months, so it certainly gives the now five-year-old mare something to build on.

Finding spots for her – the three-other-than allowance condition is still available to her – is challenging, Moysey said. There are only so many fillies and mares eligible for the condition, so tracks don’t write it frequently and the races often don’t fill. 

She had entered Red Hot Mess in an allowance at Laurel Park June 21 but scratched. Too soon after the Rehoboth, she thought, and why ship down to Laurel to run in that weekend’s blazing heat, especially when there’s a chance to stay home and run. Red Hot Mess has three wins and two seconds from five starts at Delaware Park.

“It’s her home track,” Moysey said of Delaware. “Her favorite place in the world is Delaware Park. I don’t have to ship her; I don’t have to take her anywhere.”

In fact, Moysey thinks being based at Delaware – and loving the track as Red Hot Mess does – are advantages. She and the Ned Allard-trained Beguine are the only locally-based runners in the field.

“The track is deep, and it’s tiring,” Moysey said. “I feel like it’s safe; that’s why I choose to stay here every year. Training over this surface is by far an advantage.”

Will it be enough of one to bring Red Hot Mess the black type win her connections covet? The one that could make both her and her future offspring more valuable? Only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure: when Red Hot Mess lets her connections know it’s time to retire, those connections will be Moysey and Mathews. And they’ll retire her.

“We’ve done everything right by her whole life,” the trainer said. “So we thought, you know, when she ends, it should be with us.”