May 24, 2019

Positive Spirit much the best in Demoiselle

Manny Franco gives Positive Spirit a pat on the neck as the filly easily scores in the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct on December 1, 2018 (c) NYRA/Viola Jasko/Adam Coglianese Photography

Positive Spirit, a half-sister to 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming, made a mockery of her opposition Saturday in the $250,000 Demoiselle (G2) at Aqueduct, winning the nine-furlong test by 10 1/2 lengths under Manny Franco.

“I was just the pilot,” Franco said. “She was dragging me around the entire way around. I just waited for the right moment to make a run and she was there for me. I wasn’t concerned about being floated wide because on the backside we were running straight and didn’t lose ground. I just kept her there so she could stay clean and she really did it easy. She took me to the front to make the lead and when I asked her she really opened up.”

The quality of the effort was tempered somewhat by the final time of 1:56.01 over a fast track, the slowest ever edition of the race run at 1 1/8 miles by some margin. The previous slowest time of 1:54.60 was registered by Diplomette, in 1984.

Owned by Mike Ryan and trained by Rodolphe Brisset, Positive Spirit returned $24.40.

The Demoiselle was a point-scoring prep in the 2019 Road to the Kentucky Oaks series. Positive Spirit earned 10 qualifying points for next May’s feature at Churchill Downs.

The field of seven two-year-old fillies was strung out at the finish, with 26-1 chance Afleet Destiny second by 2 1/4 lengths over Filly Joel, with Molto Bella 5 3/4 lengths farther back in fourth. Enliven, the 13-10 favorite, was a distant fifth. Afleet Destiny, Filly Joel, and Molto Bella earned Oaks qualifying points of 4-2-1, respectively.

Third in her debut at Saratoga on September 2, Positive Spirit missed by a neck in her follow-up at Keeneland on October 6, but got in the winner’s circle for the first time on November 8 at Churchill Downs, winning by 1 1/2 lengths going one mile. The Demoiselle marked the bay’s stakes debut.

“She really changed after the race in Keeneland,” Brisset said. “The light bulb really went on after she got beat. I didn’t want to cut her back to a mile but I didn’t have any choice. We did that, and since, she’s been training well and we took a shot here. She gave us all the good signs for bringing her and it paid off.

“She’s going to head to Payson Park mid next week. I think we’ll give her 30 days. It’s a good place to chill and we can come up with a plan next year. (Looking forward), who doesn’t want to go to the Kentucky Oaks? Physically, she’s a pretty big filly, but I’d love to see her develop even more in the transition between two and three. Let’s take it month by month.”

Bred in Kentucky by Santa Rosa Partners, Positive Spirit has now earned $206,700. By Pioneerof the Nile, she’s the third graded stakes winner produced by her dam, Grade 3 winner Above Perfection. In addition to Always Dreaming and Positive Spirit, the In Excess mare also reared Spinaway (G1) winner Hot Dixie Chick.