December 8, 2023

Come Dancing can’t be caught in Royal Delta

Come Dancing will be nominated to bigger events after her first stakes score in the Royal Delta (Photo by NYRA/Coglianese/Chelsea Durand)

Sunday’s inaugural running of the $97,000 Royal Delta S. at a rainy Belmont Park turned into a one-sided affair courtesy of Blue Devil Racing Stable’s homebred Come Dancing. Trained by Carlos Martin and ridden by John Velazquez, the nearly 3-1 second choice controlled the pace in the slop and splashed clear to her first stakes win.

Come Dancing took advantage of the withdrawals of pace factors Divine Miss Grey and Frostie Anne. After lobbing along through fractions of :24.52, :48.72, and 1:13.51, the Malibu Moon filly had saved more than enough for the drive. The stalking No Need to Appeal took a run at her, but Come Dancing responded promptly once her Hall of Fame pilot gave her the cue. She opened up by 6 1/4 lengths while finishing 1 1/16 miles on the sloppy, sealed track in 1:44.78.

Berned, the 3-2 favorite off her Molly Pitcher (G3) score, didn’t get her desired set-up but closed to grab second by a half-length from No Need to Appeal. Dreamcall and Sneaky Betty rounded out the order under the wire.

Come Dancing improved her resume to 6-4-0-0, $188,200. Her prior starts had all come in sprints. A convincing debut winner as a juvenile at Aqueduct, the dark bay was sidelined for 13 months but returned victorious over the same track last December. Come Dancing then tried the January 15 Interborough, only to tire to 10th in a too-bad-to-be-true result. Not seen again for six months, she cleared her second-level allowance condition by 4 1/2 lengths at Saratoga July 25. Wheeling back a week later for the August 1 Shine Again backfired, as she wound up fourth, but rebounded with a vengeance on Sunday.

Out of 2009 Demoiselle (G2) winner Tizahit, a Tiznow mare, Come Dancing hails from the extended family of 2005 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) champion Folklore, also by Tiznow.

Quotes from Belmont Park

Winning rider John Velazquez: “She liked (the 1 1/16-mile trip). She did it pretty easy. There wasn’t much speed in the race, so that helped relax her the first part of the race. She was galloping along in a very comfortable stride. After that, it was pretty easy.

“She was pretty comfortable with what she was doing on the backstretch. I was just hoping that she’d stay like that. She got a little anxious but then she rode really well. She kept looking at the infield (in the stretch) and I said ‘come on momma, keep your mind on running.'”

Winning trainer Carlos Martin: “We got back to Belmont and she had trained sensational after the race at Saratoga (the Shine Again). I had taken a gamble running her back in a week and it didn’t work out for us (when fourth), but she was really training well out of that race. I trained her a little bit differently and Irad (Ortiz Jr.) has done a great job with her. Unfortunately, he couldn’t ride her today, but Johnny did a great job.

“I was actually looking at a three-other-than allowance that didn’t fill and then this race came up and I said, ‘I really feel good about taking a chance with the way she’s training at Belmont.’ Making her a stakes winner is big for us. Blue Devil has the whole family.

“We’re going to nominate to everything and look at all the options. I think this opens up a lot of dimensions. She made an easy lead, but she’s always been kind and rated in her races before, so I think she’s going to be a dangerous horse going forward.”