By Frank Vespe/The Racing Biz

In a thrilling, three-way slugfest that saw three horses bobbing heads on the wire, hard-knocking 5-year-old Jessica Krupnick prevailed in the $75,000 Dashing Beauty Stakes at Delaware Park July 7.

The win gave the Uncle Mo mare, who is conditioned by Francis “Tres” Abbott for Sycamore Racing V, the first stakes win of her career. It also gave her 10 points in the MATCH Series, which, coupled with the seven she earned when running second in the Regret Stakes June 17 at Monmouth Park, put her at 17 points overall, good for the Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt Division lead among distaff sprinters and tied for the overall lead with Page McKenney.

But it wasn’t without its anxious moments.

Under jockey Trevor McCarthy, Jessica Krupnick bided her time in mid-pack, just a couple of lengths off the early lead of Angel At War, who led the field through an opening quarter-mile of :22.31 and a half-mile in :45.62. Entering the lane, Jessica Krupnick rallied while wide and in mid-stretch seemed likely to win by a clear margin. But then Cairenn came running alone the inside, and Lake Ponchatrain flew up in between horses.

“She has got a short run,” Abbott said. “But she gives jockeys a really good feel going around the turn, and they think, ‘Let’s see how far we’re going to win by.’ Trevor (McCarthy) said she kind of idled when she hit the front.”

When the field hit the wire, Jessica Krupnick got her nose down first, winning by that margin in a time of 1:10.84 for six furlongs on a track rated fast. Lake Ponchatrain was second, reaching the line a head before Cairenn, and it was almost three lengths farther back to the rest of the field. Favored Bonita Bianca was never much involved and finished fifth.

Jessica Krupnick paid a rich $27.80 to win as the second-longest shot in the seven-horse field.

Jessica Krupnick, out of the Henny Hughes mare Wear Red, was a $45,000 auction purchase as a yearling. She now has won five of 16 career starts and earned $203,058 in her career.

Jessica Krupnick gets her nose in front in the Dashing Beauty/Photo by Hoofprints Inc.

But those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Thus far in 2018, Jessica Krupnick has three wins and two runner-up efforts from six starts, and her one out-of-the-money start was a fourth-place finish–beaten less than a length–in the grade III Whimsical Stakes on the Tapeta surface at Woodbine. In fact, it’s safe to say that Jessica Krupnick is now, at age five, the best she’s ever been.

“She has always been very big, so as a 2-year-old she had shins and then we finally got her going at three,” Abbott said. “She ended up getting hurt after the end of her 3-year-old season, so missed a lot of her 4-year-old season, so she’s just been getting rolling now, which has been great.”

She crossed the wire first in three consecutive allowance tests–disqualified after drifting in in the first of those–before trying her hand in stakes company. First came the big effort in the Whimsical, and then she ran a good second to the ultra-talented Chalon in the Regret.

Abbott said he expected his charge to remain in the MATCH Series at least for her next start. The next stop in the five-race series is the six-furlong, $100,000 Satin and Lace Stakes at Presque Isle Downs & Casino Aug. 12. That track, like Woodbine, has a Tapeta surface.

“The MATCH Series has been great,” Abbott said. “She was fourth in a stakes in Canada on the Tapeta up there because she worked so good on the Tapeta at Fair Hill. The next race of the series is at Presque Isle on the Tapeta. It seems a little silly to kind of go off course right now since she has been doing so good.”