C J I Phoenix Group and No Guts No Glory Farm’s Fille d’Esprit came out swinging, pulling away easily down the stretch to win the $100,000 Susquehanna Valley Stakes, for fillies and mares, 3 & up, by two and a quarter lengths at Penn National on Friday, June 17.
Coming in off a runner-up finish in Pimlico’s Skipat Stakes in May, Fille d’Esprit stalked the early leader Hey Mamaluke from the outside through a quarter mile in :21.97. Fille d’Esprit made her move around the far turn, with Cinnabunny following closely behind, as she passed the leader and took charge down the stretch. She outlasted any final attempts of a chase from Cinnabunny to hit the wire in 1:09.38 for the six furlongs.
“It set up as I thought it would,” trainer Jerry Robb said. “She stalked [Hey Mamaluke] and stayed close. When Xavier [Perez] asked her, she exploded.”
Part of the second leg of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Champion Series (MATCH), Fille d’Esprit currently sits in second in the 3-Year-Olds and Up Fillies and Mares Sprint - Dirt division with 10 points. Career-wise, the 6-year-old daughter of Great Notion added a second stakes victory to her record as she improved to 17-9-4-1 with $353,726 in earnings.
The 6-year-old daughter of Great Notion made her debut as a $10,000 maiden claimer at 4 in June 2020 at Laurel Park for breeder/owner Jim and Gail Poulos’ Sweet Spirits Stables LLC and trainer Christine Clagett, and broke her maiden by three lengths in her second start.
She was claimed two months later, in her third start, for $10,000 by Robb for his and his wife Gina’s No Guts No Glory Farm and partner C J I Phoenix Group. Fille d’Esprit proved the claim worthwhile, as she won the five and a half-furlong race.
After a second in a six-furlong $10,000 claimer at Pimlico in September, she won four straight to close out the season – a four and a half-length victory in an October claimer and three straight allowance wins, at five and half furlongs and six furlongs, at Laurel in November and December.
Fille d’Esprit was off for 10 months before returning to make her stakes debut in the Maryland Million Distaff last October, where she finished last in the field of six. She followed up with a second in a six-furlong allowance optional claimer (no tag), before scoring by seven lengths in her next start in December.
Back in action in January, she finished seventh in the What a Summer Stakes after a troubled start, and followed with a third in the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie, a length behind winner Glass Ceiling, after steadying in traffic while making a run.
In March, she refused to be denied as she took control in the Conniver Stakes at Laurel, passing Combat Queen and pulling away effortlessly down the stretch to win at seven furlongs. Racing once a month since last October, Fille d’Esprit was second in the Heavenly Cause Stakes at Laurel in April before her second-place finish on the Preakness Day card in the Skipat.
Following in the hoofprints of Robb’s star trainee Anna’s Bandit, also a daughter of Great Notion out of a No Armistice mare, Fille d’Esprit is the first foal out of the Poulos’ homebred mare Sweet Valor, who has two winners from two starters. The mare has an unraced 3-year-old Editorial colt named Sweet Syntax, a yearling filly by No Never No More named Never More Valor, and foaled a filly by Blofeld early this May her breeders have named Cross of Valor.