Last-Minute Entry Lands Peter DeFreitas Carolina Classic Championship

Peter DeFreitas didn’t plan to ride Sweet Daisy Surprise in Open at the Carolina Classic Derby, but changed his mind when he realized the entry box wasn’t as full as he’d anticipated.

“I figured, you know, what the heck? I got her here,” he reasoned. “I might as well try and show her.”

It turned out to be a good move. The Double Run Farm LLC homebred mare by Hang Ten Surprize not only proved she was ready for the Level 4 Open, but won Saturday afternoon’s event with a 218. Co-Reserve Champions Watchitgalsgottagun and Jeremy Gates and Ruf Juice and Alejandro Ortiz Vasquez were a point back at 217.

“She’s always had a really good mindset and has just been really easy to train, and when I have gotten to show her she’s been fun to show,” said DeFreitas, who has an Equi-Stat record of more than $522,000. “And, I’m looking forward to showing her in some more stuff this year and seeing where it goes from here.”

The Carolina Classic Level 4 Open Championship was by far the biggest of the mare’s career. It also was the first time this year that DeFreitas had shown the 2013 mare, who was given time off from training twice for surgery to remove a bone chip from one of her ankles.

Entering the Open gave DeFreitas a chance to see what the mare could do and, while the trainer said “Daisy’s” championship performance wasn’t a total surprise, it was a pleasant surprise.

“I knew she could be good for sure, but she really let me kind of like call on her a little bit,” he said. “And, I kind of thought she could be that kind of horse, but you never really know until you kind of push on them a little bit and see what they do.”

The win was worth $4,941 in purse money, not counting any incentives. Information about the Atlantic Breeders Incentive payout for the Open Derby was not available as of Sunday.

Sweet Daisy Surprise is one of seven performers from her dam, Sweet Ginger Chic. The 2000 daughter of Smart Chic Olena now has an Equi-Stat produce record of more than $100,000.

DeFreitas thanked Monica Watson, owner of Double Run Farm, for giving the mare the time she needed to overcome her setbacks and turn into a good show horse. He’s worked out of Watson’s facility in Leland, North Carolina, for the past nine years.

“A lot of people probably would’ve wanted to sell her after she had surgery the first time, or even the second time, and kind of give up on one,” he said. “But she’s one of those people that’ll stick with one.”

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