Sunday, July 10, 2011


St. John’s River takes Delaware Oaks in final stride


Wilmington, Del., July 9, 2011 — Dede McGehee’s St. John’s River got up in the final stride and notched her first graded stake victory in the $300,000 Grade II Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park today. With Jose Lezcano aboard, the daughter of Include won by a head. Strike the Moon with Julian Pimentel, finished second after setting early fractions of :48.71 for the half-mile and 1:13.09 for the three-quarters. It was another 1 ¾-lengths further back to All for Thee in third, with Jeremy Rose, in third.

St. John’s River, a Kentucky-bred trained by Andrew Leggio, Jr., covered the mile and a sixteenth over a fast track in 1:44.39 and returned $4.00 as the favorite in the field of seven.


“They were going so slow the first part of it I was worried because I did not think they would back up that much,” said winning trainer Andrew Leggio, Jr. “They did not back that much, but she just kept running on them. She was the seven horse and she went seven horses wide at the top of the stretch. I have had two by passes and I thought I was going to need a third. I thought she was going to win the race, but I was concerned about this short stretch because she does not start getting running until the last eighth of a mile. With a little luck she would have won her last two races. My next stop is the Alabama at Saratoga.”

"She's a really good filly. She won it by herself today," jockey Jose Lezcano said. "I gave her so much to do, but she's a very good filly and she did it."

St. John's River increased her lifetime record to two wins from six starts with earnings of $500,070.

Since the Delaware Oaks was reinstituted as part of the Delaware Park stakes schedule in 1996, five fillies, including the last three, have won the Delaware Oaks and followed with a victory in the Alabama Stakes. They are Blind Luck (2010), Careless Jewel (2009), Proud Spell (2008), Island Fashion (2003) and Runup the Colors (1997). Both Blind Luck and Proud Spell won the year-end Eclipse Award for 3-year-old fillies.

Past notable winners of the Delaware Oaks include: Vagrancy (1942), Gallorette (1945), Miss Request (1948), Next Move (1950), Kiss Me Kate (1951), Parlo (1954), Bayou (1957), Primonetta (1961), Lady Pitt (1966), Dark Mirage (1968), Gallant Bloom (1969), Desert Vixen (1973), Proud Spell (2008), and Blind Luck (2010).


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