Delaware Handicap – Grade 2
Race 10 at Delaware Park
Saturday, July 21 – Post Time 5:45 PM E.T.
One Mile and One Quarter, for Fillies and Mares Three Years Old and Upward
By Ellis Starr – National Racing Analyst for Equibase
The 75th running of the Grade 2, $750,000 Delaware Handicap features the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic winner Royal Delta, who returned from a poor ninth-place effort in March versus males in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup to win the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap in June in powerful fashion. Love and Pride won the Grade 3 Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park in her most recent race and therefore has a familiarity edge she can use in an attempt to beat the likely prohibitive favorite. Cash for Clunkers enters the Delaware Handicap off a very big effort when finishing second in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at the end of May. Tiz Miz Sue finished second to Love and Pride in the Obeah, and two races prior to that was victorious in the Grade 3 Azeri Stakes, so she could be capable of rising to this grade 2 stakes level and running competitively. Pachattack is the only other entrant in the race besides Royal Delta to have won at this mile and one-quarter distance, having won the Maple Leaf Stakes earlier in her career. As she’s returning to the main track after a poor recent effort on grass Pachattack could also return to good form. Daring Reality has only a non-graded win on her resume and has been no better than third in five previous graded stakes tries so she appears overmatched in this situation. Last but not least, Awesome Maria had no excuse for her third-place effort as the prohibitive favorite in the Phipps, but as she won five straight graded stakes races prior to that including the 2011 Phipps, it might be a mistake to count her out.
Royal Delta peaked last year when taking the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic rather easily and with a career best 119 Equibase® Speed Figure. Rested nearly four months she returned in the Sabin Stakes and finished a non-threatening second to Awesome Maria, suggesting she was not yet 100% race ready. Shipping half-way across the world to compete against some of the best in the world and taking on males for the first time in the Dubai World Cup, Royal Delta could manage no better than a ninth- place effort. However, back in the U.S. for the Fleur de Lis Handicap last month we saw the Royal Delta of old as she decimated the field with a powerful eight length victory. With the 116 figure earned in the Fleur De Lis likely to be improved upon and by far the best last race figure in the field, Royal Delta appears likely to win her second graded stakes race in a row on the way to defending her crown on November 2 in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.
Love and Pride has won three times in four races at Delaware Park and enters this race off a fine victory in the Obeah Stakes last month, the same race Havre de Grace used prior to her narrow loss in the 2011 Delaware Handicap. Usually taking the lead from the start and playing “come catch me” with the field, Love and Pride also has won by sitting in second position in the early stages and going by the pacesetter late, which might be the case in this race as Cash for Clunkers has an inside post position. Nevertheless, with a very good 107 earned in the Obeah to repeat or improve upon, Love and Pride should have a say in the outcome of the Delaware Handicap.
Cash for Clunkers took the lead from the start and set the pace in the Ogden Phipps Handicap, her most recent start, until deep stretch when passed by winner It’s Tricky. Having won three races in a row prior to that and earning a 109 in the best of those efforts, Cash for Clunkers has held top form since February and should continue to run well. Like Love and Pride, Cash for Clunkers usually leads from start to finish in her victories, but did win earlier this year after racing in second in the early stages, so may not need the lead to run another big race in this situation.
The rest of the Delaware Handicap field, with their best representative Equibase® Speed Figures, is Awesome Maria (114), Daring Reality (101), Pachattack (115), and Tiz Miz Sue (117).
Love and Pride
Cash for Clunkers
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