Day At The Track

Delco Dusty exceeded owner's expectations

06:00 AM 14 Nov 2017 NZDT
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Delco Dusty, Harness Racing
Delco Dusty ended her season with a 1:55 victory in the $90,000 Massachusetts Sire Stakes final for 2-year-old filly pacers.
Tom Melanson photo

Laurel, DE --- With just a dozen 2-year-old pacing fillies eligible to the Massachusetts Sire Stakes in 2017, Wisconsin harness racing horseman Jesse De Long knew all along he'd send Delco Dusty to the East Coast to compete.

What he wasn't sure of was whether she'd make any money.

Three wins and close to $80,000 later, it's safe to say the filly exceeded his expectations.

"I never thought she'd be a stakes record mare," De Long said.

Delco Dusty is the daughter of longtime De Long broodmare Gypsys Good Girl and Jereme's Jet. De Long said he’d wanted to breed the mare to an East Coast stallion in 2015 and, at the urging of family friend Jimmy Nickerson, decided to let her foal in Massachusetts.

“The program was building,” he said, adding that the previous year the 2-year-old pace had gone in 2:02.

And so Gypsys Good Girl (Wuzzup-Expresso Gypsy) foaled in Norfolk, Mass., in May of 2015 and was bred to New York stallion Rock N Roll Heaven before heading home to Wisconsin with her young filly. It was there De Long decided to name her in honor of Dustin Deming, the doctor he credits with saving his wife Mary’s life after she was diagnosed with colon cancer.

“At first they didn’t give her long to live,” he said. “She’s been clean now for almost two years.”

While Delco Dusty was the offspring of one of De Long’s favorite broodmares, she didn’t particularly stand out training down early this year. De Long and his sons, who break and train about 15 head a year, followed their usual routine of giving her a few starts at Wisconsin fairs before sending her to Hoosier Park. There, De Long’s son John maintains a stable.

“Actually my son said he had so many fillies he didn’t really even want her,” De Long said. “We didn’t think she was as good as some of the Indiana fillies.”

He took her though and raced her several times at Hoosier Park. Though she was an impressive second in her first start, coming from ninth at the half to finish second by a neck, she struggled with sickness during the following weeks. She went on to earn three fifth-place checks before it came time for her trip east. De Long wasn’t optimistic when he sent her to Nickerson and trainer Heidi Rohr.

“Her first start out there she was so far back it wasn’t funny,” he said.

When Nickerson called him after the race, De Long figured it was to make arrangements to send the filly back to Wisconsin. He was pleasantly surprised by what his friend had to say.

“He said she was super fast,” De Long recalled.

He pointed out that she’d finished next to last and Nickerson assured him that regardless, she had speed. Delco Dusty went on to prove it, finishing third the following week before really earning some attention in the first elimination of the Massachusetts Sire Stakes.

On Sept. 25, driver Greg Merton steered her to a 1:53 win at Plainridge Park, obliterating the previous track record of 1:55 for 2-year-old pacing fillies. She won in 1:54.2 in another sire stakes event the following week. After a fourth in a conditioned race at Vernon Downs and a third in an Oct. 23 sire stakes event, Delco Dusty ended her season with a 1:55 victory in the $90,000 Massachusetts Sire Stakes final for 2-year-old filly pacers last Monday (Nov. 6).

De Long says the filly, who’s now on vacation for the winter, made it a memorable stakes season for he and his wife. Delco Dusty has also renewed his faith in her dam, who’s already produced several talented mares that will eventually be part of his broodmare band.

“It’s a good old Illinois family,” he said. “We’ve had good luck with them.”

by Charlene Sharpe, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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