Hot List Graded Stakes Review: $750,000 Delaware Handicap


Belle Gallantey upsets the Delaware Handicap. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)

On the toteboard, the Delaware Handicap seemed a mismatch.

At the finish line, the mile and a quarter stakes proved to be one-sided – but it wasn’t the result most people expected.

Though multiple-Grade 1 winner Princess of Sylmar was sent off a prohibitive 1-5 favorite, it was Belle Gallantey, a $35,000 claim back in December, who controlled the pace and was unchallenged at the end in winning by 2 ¾ lengths at 6.80-to-1 odds.

The front-running victory was surely surprising and it raised more questions than it answered.

As impressive as Belle Gallantey’s victory have looked, there were extenuating circumstances.

The mile and a quarter distance is a rare one for fillies and mares and Belle Gallantey capitalized on grabbing an uncontested lead in a small field through ordinary fractions. After covering six furlongs in 1:13.63, Belle Gallantey and jockey Jose Ortiz were able to turn the final four furlongs into a sprint to the wire that they controlled. They raced the final furlongs in increasingly faster splits of 23.81 seconds and 23.71 seconds – clockings faster than the first three two-furlong splits – and pulled away from their five rivals in the final eighth of a mile.

The win came on the heels of a good effort in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps, when Belle Gallantey lost by only 1 ¾ lengths to Close Hatches. Yet considering the elongated distance and fractions, plus the eight pounds she received from the runner-up, she’ll likely have to work harder to notch another Grade 1 victory. Considering all of that, she seems more likely to regress in her next start than register an encore, prompting the Hot List team to pass on assigning her letter for her victory.

There’s a tendency to forgive Princess of Sylmar’s runner-up finish because of the pace, distance and the weight she gave away to her rivals under the handicap conditions, but they are shaky excuses for such a talented runner. Though her 1-5 odds were an underlay given the length and a half that separated her from Belle Gallantry in the Phipps, Princess of Sylmar was the class of the field and should have posed a stronger threat in the stretch.

She may have had some traffic issues while mounting a bid between horses late on the final turn, but this marked a second-straight second-place finish. Considering that a year ago at this time she was in the midst of winning four straight Grade 1’s, Princess of Sylmar is clearly not as dominant as she was at three. She’s quite capable of rebounding at a track she likes, such as Saratoga, but backing her to win against the top-shelf company she’ll face seems risky for the low odds she figures to attract because of her success a year ago.

Since we’re looking for Horses to Watch in their next race to stock the Hot List, we’ll pass on her as well as the other four starters who had no impact on the outcome.

In terms of the wagering, the late betting was skewered by Princess of Sylmar’s miniscule odds. She was 1-9 for much of the wagering, and when she rose to 1-5 at the end, it opened the door for the other five starters to drop significantly. Since the drops had more to do with Princess of Sylmar than the merits of the other horses, none of them will receive a letter.

All in all, for a variety reasons, we’re more wary of the Del’ ’Cap than impressed by it.

Delaware Handicap Late Wagering Report

Horse No.

Odds – 2 min. to post

Final Odds



















The Hot List, founded by turf writer/handicapper Bob Ehalt in 2011, blends a detailed analysis of a race with late wagering trends to pick out the horses with the best chance of running a winning race in their next start. Hot List horses are rated in four lettered categories:

A : A preferred horse to watch off his effort in the race                
B : A secondary horse to watch off his effort in the race                
*C: Went down 2 or more betting notches in the final minutes of wagering and finished 1st through 3rd
*D: Went down 2 or more betting notches in the final minutes of wagering and finished 4th or worse
* - 4 or more betting notches if 11-1 or more.

For questions on the Hot List, email:

For an Equibase chart of the Delaware Handicap, click here.

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