Power Squeeze scores in Delaware Oaks thriller

It would have been easy enough for Power Squeeze to pack it in during Monday’s 73rd running of the $300,000, Grade 3 Delaware Oaks.

There was Ringy Dingy, with Katie Davis up, sneaking off to an open-lengths lead in upper stretch. And on Power Squeeze’s outside, here came the talented Sidamara, revving up a threatening late run.

But Power Squeeze didn’t pack it in. Instead, she fought on, found more, and won a thriller by a nose over Sidamara, the two hitting the wire virtually in tandem.

“She’s a champion. She showed today that she has the determination to win,” said Jorge Delgado, who trainers Power Squeeze for Lea Farms LLC. “And you know, we thought at some point that we could lose the race, and she proved us wrong. She kept going and kept going, and she won the head-bob. It was amazing.”

Power Squeeze won for the fifth time in nine career outings. She has earned $592,450. The win was also her second in graded stakes company, joining the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks, which she won in March in an 11-1 upset.

Under jockey Javier Castellano, aboard for the second time, Power Squeeze broke alertly before Castellano took a hold, settling her in mid-flight and along the rail early. Ringy Dingy led the field through the first six furlongs, loping a half-mile in a sleepy 50.34 seconds, with Princess Indy and Call Another Play her closest pursuers.

The third quarter was quicker, though, which likely was decisive for Ringy Dingy’s chances. It went in a fast 22.98 seconds, and though Ringy Dingy still held the lead – in fact, had increased it to 1 ½ lengths – she would not be able to maintain the edge.

Rounding the far turn, Power Squeeze moved wide and into second, and Sidamara moved wider still as both runners took aim. Ringy Dingy still had control, but Castellano said he was not concerned.

Delaware Oaks
It’s Power Squeeze’s nose on the inside getting down first over Sidamara (#7). Photo by HoofprintsInc.com.

“Everything went well with her today,” the rider said.  “I really liked the way she did it today.  Turning for home, I really felt good about the way she was encouraging herself.  When she saw the other horse [Sidamara], she took off again.”

Delgado was somewhat less sanguine.

“I did feel nervous,” he admitted. “Like, coming to the stretch, Ringy Dingy opened a couple of lengths and looked comfortable on the lead. The horse coming from behind [Sidamara] was coming like in good shape also.”

Sidamara and Power Squeeze hooked up just as the field turned for home. They were inseparable the rest of the way. Just when Power Squeeze seemed set to inch away, Sidamara found just a bit more, and the two hit the wire together.

“After we hooked up with each other, those two fought like champions to the wire,” Castellano said. “I am just glad it went our way.  Sometimes it does not work out your way, but today it did.”

Sidamara was 2 ¼ lengths clear of Regaled, who rallied from a distant last to be third at odds of 71-1 under Forest Boyce. She was a neck ahead of Call Another Play, who encountered trouble in the stretch run, with Ringy Dingy and Princess Indy rounding out the field.

Power Squeeze with Javier Castellano up. Jorge Delgado is in the blue top. Photo by The Racing Biz.

Running time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:47.65 over a fast main track. Power Squeeze paid $4.60 to win, going off as the second choice behind 3-5 Sidamara. The top two choices comprised an exacta that returned $3.80 for a one-dollar wager.

Power Squeeze’s two prior starts had both come in Grade 1 company. She finished sixth in the Kentucky Oaks and then a well-beaten third in the Acorn over Belmont Stakes weekend. Both came behind the sophomore filly division’s current titan, Thorpedo Anna.

The drop into an easier spot in Grade 3 company certainly worked. So maybe Delgado wants to avoid Thorpedo Anna in the future?

Not so fast.

“It actually is a goal that we do have, to try to beat her,” Delgado said. “The two times we faced her, track conditions weren’t favorable to us… We actually want to try to beat her; we’re not going the other way.”

Power Squeeze, a Dialed In filly who is half-sister to Grade 1 winner Defunded, broke her maiden at Delaware last fall for her only win in three starts as a juvenile. This was her fourth win in six starts as a three-year-old.

That the head bob went her way, Delgado said, will make for a much more pleasant trip back to his Monmouth Park base.

“It would have been very heartbreaking to ride home an hour and 50 minutes thinking that we lost,” the trainer said. “Now we’re gonna be happy, and we’re gonna celebrate tonight.”