Consistent mare Dainty Tess made an electrifying return to racing with a last-to-first victory in the Kirin Megumi Handicap (1000m) at Belmont on Saturday.
Ridden by apprentice Kate Witten, Dainty Tess stormed home after missing the start by several lengths and defeated Bombs Away by a half-length.
The War Chant mare, trained by Dan Morton, had not raced since June when runner-up to dual Listed winner, It’s It and will now be set for Ascot carnival races.
Morton said the Jungle Mist Classic (1200m) and Jungle Dawn Classic (1400m) were likely summer targets for Dainty Tess, a winner of over $600,000 in prize money and bonuses.
“Half-way round I thought this was going to be Winx-like to get up from there,” Morton said.
“I didn’t envisage her walking out of the gates like she did, but credit to Kate who held it together.
“Hopefully we have bigger fish to fry at the end of the spring.”
It’s It claimed his second Listed win when he staved off a strong challenge from Just Act Natural in the Idyllic Prince Stakes (1300m).
After leading with Just Act Natural camped on his outside It’s It gained the ascendancy over the final 100m to score by a head.
Flying Time ran on for third.
Battle Hero, who challenged Just Act Natural for favouritism, returned with a mildly elevated heart rate after fading to sixth.
Trainer Chris Gangemi said the Stratum gelding will go for a spell.
It’s It gave trainer Sharon Miller and apprentice Randy Tan the second leg of a feature race double after he took out the Beaufine Stakes (1000m) in June.
“No one took him on and he got his own way in front,” Miller said.
“I wasn’t confident because he only does what he has to do and is not a great track worker.”
Jockey Dan Staeck predicts a bright future for Epic Grey who scored a tough win in the Myattsfield Vineyards Plate (1200m).
The Lindsey Smith-trained three-year-old was sent straight to the front by Staeck, but he looked in a power of trouble passing the 200m.
But after being headed he fought back and defeated Fine Scent by a half-head with Dainty Pat a short-neck away third.
“I think the horse is alright,” Staeck said.
“It’s a very nice type of win.
“I think there are bigger and better days for him.”