Over a year ago, Danette entered a baby race at Arlington. She finished a well-beaten seventh.
Since then, she had been doing everything…well, everything but winning races.
She dropped in for an $80,000 tag at Del Mar the next out, and improved a bit. She was still fifth, but beaten only four lengths. It was enough for trainer Keith Desormeaux to move her back up against special weight company, and she has not been in for a tag since then.
Her fourth time out, she missed catching Maybellene by just a head, and it was good enough to put her into stakes company next: the GI Chandelier. She finished third — well beaten by Angela Renee and Conquest Eclipse, but well clear of the rest. Despite being a maiden, she was now Grade I placed.
Her best start of her juvenile year came in her next one, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The track played well to speed during the early races that day, and Take Charge Brandi took full advantage. Danette, bringing up the rear early after a suboptimal start, rallied up the rail and got in well enough for fifth, beaten just a length and a half.
The winter and the spring passed, and Danette kept trying. She stayed mainly in California, but took a trip to the Fair Grounds, too. Sometimes she faced maidens. Sometimes she faced winners. Usually she ran on dirt, but she tried the grass as well.
She seemed a little off form through the winter and spring, though her race on May 7 suggested that she was finding what she had shown back in the fall. That day, she closed to finish beaten just half a length by wire-to-wire winner Conquest Curlgirl. Conquest Curlgirl acquitted herself well next out, coming back to finish third behind Stellar Wind in the Summertime Oaks (GII).
Danette got about two months off after that second-place finish. On July 2, Danette got another change of scenery. She shipped out to Big Sandy for the first time. Her stablemate, Texas Red, was heading out to Belmont for this Saturday’s Dwyer. There was another race that week that looked perfect for Danette: a 1 1/16 mile maiden special weight on the dirt, for fillies and mares, with a $75,000 purse. Her last out suggested she was coming back into form, so it made sense to try her there.
Blame Dixie took the early fractions. Though Danette was near the back of the pack early, she was not far off the early pace, just about three lengths. Outside throughout, she got within about two lengths of the front coming into the sweeping far turn. She had the leader in her sights, and made her move through the turn. By halfway around, she was just outside Blame Dixie and Moonlit Bay. By the turn for home, she had the front.
Danette was hardly home free; Regia Marina was making a closing run on the outside. That pair opened up half a dozen lengths of daylight on the rest of the field. Danette showed gameness. She turned back the run from Regia Marina, and crossed the wire 1 3/4 lengths in front.
It took Danette twelve and a half months, thirteen starts, and a cross-country trip…but her talent finally landed her on the wire first. She has won.