Wilmington, Del., June 11, 2011 — As expected, Havre de Grace cruised to an easy victory in the $150,000 Grade III Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park today. The next start for the filly, locally owned by Richard Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, will be in the filly and mare summer classic – the mile and a quarter $750,000 Grade II Delaware Handicap on July 16.

The 4-year-old daughter of Saint Liam won by 2 1/4-lengths and returned $2.40 as the favorite in the field of five. With Gabriel Saez astride, the Kentucky-bred conditioned by J. Larry Jones covered the mile-and-an-eighth in 1:49.87 over a fast main track.

“Her effort today was what we were looking for and wanting to get before the Delaware Handicap,” said trainer J. Larry Jones, who won the Delaware Handicap in 2005 with Island Sand. “We wanted to have a trip over the track, that way no one could have an advantage on us. Going into the Delaware Handicap we not only want to think we have the best horse, we want to make sure we have taken the best path we can take. Needless to say, the horses she beat today are good horses and they made her get something out of this race. The race is going to surely tighten her up. This will have Havre de Grace at her very best. Hopefully, it will payoff and I can get my second Delaware Handicap”

Tiz Miz Sue, previously unbeaten in four starts on the Delaware Park main track finished second with Joseph Rocco Jr. aboard. It was another 4 ¾-lengths further back to Sweet N Sour Nina, with Rosie Napravnik, in third.

Sarah’s Song, with Victor Lebron astride, cut early fractions of :24.14 for the half-mile and 1:12.72 for the three-quarter miles before fading to fourth. The top four finishers in the Obeah automatically earn a free nomination to the Delaware Handicap.

Previously, Havre de Grace posted a ¾-length victory in Grade I Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park on April 15. In her only other outing this year, she notched a 3 ¼-length over the 2010 filly champion Blind Luck in the Grade III Azeri at Oaklawn Park on March 19.

Last year, she did not win at Delaware Park, but had a pair of solid seconds. She ran second in the Go for Wand Stakes and then ran second beaten a nose to Blind Luck in the Grade II Delaware Oaks. She concluded the season with a third in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic at Churchill Downs.

In 2009, Havre de Grace broke her maiden at Delaware Park in her second career start. She sports a lifetime record of six wins from 11 starts with earnings of $1,353,175.

The Obeah Stakes was inaugurated in 1996. Since then, four fillies and mares have used the race as a prep for victories in the Delaware Handicap. They are: Power Play, who was trained 2011 Kentucky Derby winning trainer H. Graham Motion, finished second in the Obeah before capturing the Del Cap in 1997; Irving’s Baby finished third in the Obeah before winning the Delaware Handicap in 2001; Fleet Indian, the Eclipse Award winning filly or mare, won the Obeah before notching a Delaware Handicap triumph in 2006; and Unbridled Belle ran third in the Obeah before winning the Delaware Handicap in 2007.

Last year, Miss Singshix won the Obeah and followed by running second in the Delaware Handicap. Others to win the Obeah and follow with second-place finishes in the Delaware Handicap include Your Out, also conditioned by H. Graham Motion, in 2002; and Under the Rug in 2001.

The Obeah Stakes is named after the two-time winner of the Delaware Handicap (1969 & 1970) locally owned by Christiana Stables. She had a career race record of 11 wins, 13 seconds and three thirds from 46 starts with earnings of $387,299. As a broodmare, Obeah produced the Eclipse Award winning filly Go for Wand. She was also the dam of Black Powder, Dance Spell and Discorama. She was inducted into the Delaware Park Wall of Fame in 2010.