Havre de Grace, locally owned by Richard Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 this morning at Delaware Park in preparation for her engagement in the mile-and-a-quarter $750,000 Grade II Delaware Handicap on July 16.
“All is well,”” said trainer J. Larry Jones who won the Delaware Handicap in 2005 with Island Sand. “She worked this morning. It was just a little move forward towards her work next week, but all is well and she is right on schedule.”
Since being turned over to trainer J. Larry Jones at the end of her campaign last year, the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Saint Liam is unbeaten in three starts this year. In her most recent she posted a 2 ¼-length triumph in the mile-and-an-eighth $150,000 Grade III Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park on June 11. Previously, she won a pair of Oaklawn Park stakes. On March 19, she beat Blind Luck by 3 ¼-lengths in the Grade III Azeri Stakes and she followed by notching a ¾-length score in the Grade I Apple Blossom Handicap on April 15. Last year, she finished second to Blind Luck in the Delaware Oaks and finished her 2010 campaign with a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic at Churchill Downs. She has a career record of six wins, three seconds and two thirds from 11 starts with earnings of $1,371,175.
Trainer J. Larry Jones ranks Havre de Grace as possibly the best horse he has ever trained.
“I even said that before we actually raced her the first time,” said Jones. “I thought she was showing me signs of being a very special horse. Hard Spun was very very nice. Unfortunately we do not know how good Eight Belles was going to get, but she sure was good. Proud Spell and Kodiak Kowboy both won Eclipse Awards and they were both special. But I think Havre de Grace is as good or better then anything we have ever had.”
Other works from this morning include: J W Blue, a possible for the Barbaro on July 9, breezed four furlongs in :49.00; Millenia, a possible for the Robert G. Dick on July 9, breezed five furlongs in :59.60; and Yankee Passion, another possible for the Barbaro, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.
Anthony Dutrow may enter two horses in the mile-and-a-sixteenth $100,000 Barbaro Stakes for 3-year-olds to be run as part of the Delaware Oaks undercard on July 9. He has a total of four nominated to the stake named for the winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner who broke his maiden at Delaware Park in 2005.
“We are going to run at least one and possibly two,” Dutrow said. “J W Blue certainly could be entered and either All of the Above or Rush Now may be entered. It will be one of those two. We will probably run the other at Monmouth. So we will have at least one and possibly two.”
J W Blue sports a career record of two wins from eight starts with earnings of $76,470. In his most recent, the Kentucky-bred son of Sky Mesa finished second beaten a head in $50,000 Floor Show Stakes at Delaware Park on June 13.
All of the Above has a lifetime record of three wins and two seconds from six starts with earnings of $106,700. The New Jersey-bred son of Iron Deputy has won his last three races with his most recent against state-bred allowance competition going six furlongs at Monmouth on June 12.
Rush Now has a career record of four wins, a second, and a third from nine starts with earnings of $158,765. In his latest, the Kentucky-bred son of Tiznow won the $76,000 Spend a Buck Stakes by 4 ¼-lengths at Monmouth on May 22. Last year, he broke his maiden at Delaware Park and then followed by winning the $75,000 Dover Stakes.
David Cottle and Smart Angle’s All for Thee will be ready for her first graded stake test when she runs in the mile-and-a-sixteenth $300,000 Grade II Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park on July 9.
“We are happy with her, very happy with her,” said trainer Anthony Dutrow, who won his first career race at Delaware Park in 1978. “In the spring we were hoping that we would be in this position to run her in the Oaks. She has been progressing very well and she is in great shape. We are looking forward to running her in the Oaks. She has to prove she is this kind of filly, but she is absolutely worthy of the opportunity to prove herself and we think she is going to run good. ”
In her most recent outing, the daughter of Elusive Quality posted a 2-length triumph in the mile-and-a-seventy-yard $75,000 Go For Wand Stakes at Delaware Park on June 4. Previously, the Kentucky-bred notched a 4-length score going a mile-and-seventy-yards versus allowance competition at Delaware Park on May 7. On March 27, she broke her maiden by 6 ½-lengths at Oaklawn Park going one mile. She sports a career record of three wins from four starts with earnings of $95,400.
While Dutrow has won more than a dozen Delaware Park stakes and has won numerous notable stakes on the national level, the 53-year-old native of Hagerstown, Maryland has never won the Delaware Oaks or the Delaware Handicap. Last year, he had victory within in his grasp in the Delaware Oaks when Havre de Grace took the lead in deep stretch, but was beaten in the final jump at the wire by Blind Luck. The Delaware Oaks has always been a race that Anthony Dutrow has wanted to win.
“You bet,” he said. “The best 3-year-olds in the country came for the Delaware Oaks. It is a special race and even more so to me because I grew up with this race. We were just beaten a small nose by Blind Luck last year and I hope All for Thee can put us on the list of really really nice fillies that have won the Oaks.”
Past notable winners of the Delaware Oaks include: Vagrancy (1942), Gallorette (1945), Miss Request (1948), Next Move (1950), Kiss Me Kate (1951), Parlo (1954), Bayou (1957), Primonetta (1961), Lady Pitt (1966), Dark Mirage (1968), Gallant Bloom (1969), Desert Vixen (1973), Proud Spell (2008), and Blind Luck (2010).
Dede McGehee’s St. John’s River, second her most recent outing in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks, is on target for the mile-and-a-sixteenth $300,000 Grade II Delaware Oaks to be run at Delaware Park on July 9. “She has been at Delaware since last Thursday (June 16),” said trainer Andrew Leggio, Jr., who trains on the Louisiana circuit. “The track is a little bit looser and cuppier then I like, but I think she will adjust to it fine. She has been over it now for three of four days and I am planning on blowing her out over it on Saturday morning. It has been really nice up here. I have been here four or five days myself and we really like it. I can tell you this, it is a lot cooler here then it is in New Orleans.” In her most recent outing, St. John’s River ran second beaten a neck in the mile-and-an-eighth Grade I Kentucky Oaks on May 6. Previously, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Include ran second beaten a half length in the mile-and-a-sixteenth $500,000 Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on March 26. “She has a run a couple of really super races to finish second, so we are really hoping she will break through and get that graded stake victory soon,” Leggio said. “We really like this filly and she is training real well, so I think she we will run a big race. We knew she was going to be a route horse all along. Her full sister is Panty Raid and she was a route horse. The further she went, the better she got and this girl is sort of following the same path as Panty Raid.” In 2007, Panty Raid won the mile-and-an-eighth Grade II Black-Eyed Susan, the mile-and-quarter Grade I American Oaks on the turf, and the mile-and-an-eighth Grade I Spinster Stakes on the synthetic surface at Keeneland. St. John’s River only career victory came on January 21, when she posted a 4-length triumph against maidens going a mile-and-seventy-yards at the Fair Grounds. She followed by running second beaten a neck in a mile-and-seventy-yard allowance at the Fair Grounds on February 25. She has a career record of a win, three seconds and a third from five starts with earnings of $320,070. A strong showing in the Delaware Oaks could send St. John’s River to the mile-and-a-quarter Grade I Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on August 20. “We are just going to take it one race at a time,” he said. “We want to get through this race, but I do have my eye on the Alabama. If she comes out of this race good and runs well, we will probably go to the Alabama.” Since the Delaware Oaks was reinstituted as part of the Delaware Park stakes schedule in 1996, five fillies, and the last three, have won the Delaware Oaks and followed with a victory in the Alabama Stakes. They are Blind Luck (2010), Careless Jewel (2009), Proud Spell (2008), Island Fashion (2003), and Runup the Colors (1997). Both Blind Luck and Proud Spell won the year-end Eclipse Award for 3-year-old fillies. It has been a little while since Andrew Leggio Jr. has been to Delaware Park and while the he knew about the Delaware Oaks as a young man, he has a much better appreciation for it now. “The last time I was at Delaware Park was about sixty years ago when I was 16 or 17-years-old and I was just coming on the racetrack,” he said. “In those days, I did not realize how important these kind of races were. I was just a kid learning how to gallop. I did not know an allowance condition from a claiming race in those days, but I sure do now.”
The Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al Nahyan Arabian Cup Open tops Arabian Stakes at Delaware Park this weekend
The second renewal of the $40,000 Grade II Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Arabian Cup Open tops a slate of Arabian stakes as part of the undercards at Delaware Park this weekend. On Saturday, the first nine races will feature thoroughbreds and the final two races on the eleven race card will be for the Arabians. “This weekend is going to be exciting for the Arabian horsemen and I look forward to running five horses on Saturday,” said Tracy Nunley, who won the 2010 Darley Award for most outstanding Arabian trainer. “We have the best of the best at Delaware and it will be an interesting and competitive weekend.” On Saturday, Nunley has entered Dixies Valentine and Rich Frynchman in the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Arabian Cup and Golden Odessy, Rich Kinkga and Lil Rich Girl in the six furlong $15,000 Dr. Sam Harrison Juvenile Arabian Filly Stakes. On Monday, the native of Brooksville, Florida has three Arabians nominated to the six furlong $15,000 Alec Courtelis Arabian Juvenile Stakes. They are Born to Boogie MC, Generator, and Gurkha. Sam Vasquez’s T M Fred Texas tops the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Nahyan Arabian Cup which will be the tenth race with an approximate post time of 5:18 p.m. In his most recent outing, the 4-year-old son of Burning Sand posted a 9 ¼-length triumph in the mile-and-a-quarter $50,000 Grade I President of the United Arab Emirates Cup, which was the first ever Arabian race hosted by Churchill Downs. Previously, the Texas-bred conditioned by Ronald Martino ran second beaten 2-lengths in the one mile Grade III Arabian Cup at Sam Houston on April 9. He sports a career record of six wins and a second from eight starts with earnings of $79,605.
Peter Redekop’s Wildcat Aly, a recent $30,000 claim, will try stakes company in the $125,000 Sweet & Sassy Stakes at Delaware Park this Saturday. The six-furlong affair for fillies and mares has attracted a field of seven. Wildcat Aly, who is four for four so far this season, has only been defeated once on the dirt, and in that race she broke awkwardly and got caught wide on the turn. In her most recent, the 4-year-old daughter of Wildcat Heir posted a six-and-a-half-length triumph in a six-furlong allowance at Parx on May 17. Previously, the Florida-bred conditioned by Michael Stidham was claimed for $30,000 after posting a neck victory going five and half furlongs at the Fair Grounds. She has made six dirt starts and has won five. Her first 11 career starts were either on polytrack or the turf. In her first career outing on the dirt, she notched an eight-length score in a $30,000 claiming event going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs on November 12. She has a career record of seven wins, a second and three thirds from 17 starts with earnings of $176,397. “I believe in the Ragozin numbers and she had a good line on the Ragozins,” said Stidham. “Actually, she had synthetic races and dirt races in her past performances, and I thought her dirt numbers were far superior to her synthetic numbers. Since I thought she had real solid dirt numbers and I knew we were coming to Delaware, I figured she would be a good horse to bring to the east coast.” While Stidham believed she was a talented filly, he never really gave serious thought of running her in stakes company until after her allowance victory at Parx. “You just hope you are making a good claim and you can turn her around and run her for the price you bought for her,” Stidham said. “I think I really took notice when she crossed the finish line at Parx and then when I saw her number was a six. That made me feel pretty good about her. But in order for her to win a race like this, you have got to have them run those kind of numbers consistently. If she goes back to her old numbers, she probably cannot win a stake of this caliber. But you never know until they run.”
H. Graham Motion, who won the Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom earlier this year, won his fifth John W. Rooney Memorial Stakes when Nancy Mazzoni’s She Be Classy notched a 3 1/2-length victory at Delaware Park today. The eighth running of the $75,700 John W. Rooney Memorial was originally scheduled for the turf course was transferred to the main track.
With Joseph Rocco Jr. aboard, the 4-year-old daughter of Toccet covered the mile and a sixteenth in 1:45.31 over a fast main track and returned $8.80 as the third choice in the field of seven. Thundering Emilia, with Julian Pimentel, finished second. It was another 1 ¼-lengths further back to Millenia, with Victor Santiago, in third.
She Be Classy raised her career record to five wins from 20 starts with earnings of $134,258. The Rooney was the first career stakes victory for the Kentucky-bred.
Four of the seven runners in the Rooney were conditioned by Kentucky Derby winning trainers. They were H. Graham Motion (She Be Classy, 1st) who won the Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom in 2011; Michael Matz (Thundering Emilia, 2nd) who won the Kentucky Derby with Barbaro in 2006; Barclay Tagg (Millennia, 3rd) who won the Kentucky Derby with Funny Cide in 2003; and Nicholas Zito (Shirley She Can, 5th) who won the Kentucky Derby with Go For Gin in 1994 and Strike the Gold in 1991.
A full field of 15 horses have been entered in the $75,000 John Rooney Memorial Stakes to be run this Saturday at Delaware Park. The mile and a sixteenth turf affair for fillies and mares is named after the former vice-president of racing and vice-president of finance who served Delaware Park for 44-years.
Jack Swain Apple Charlotte will be seeking her first career stake victory in the Rooney. She has only made two starts this year. In her most recent, the Kentucky-bred conditioned by Kentucky Derby winning trainer H. Graham Motion finished fourth in a mile turf allowance at Belmont Park on May 11. Previously, the 4-year-old daughter of Smart Strike finished third in a one mile turf allowance at Keeneland. Her final race of the 2010 season came on April 3, 2010 when she finished sixth in the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. She sports a career record of two wins, two seconds and a third from seven starts with earnings of $82,817.
Paul Fowler’s Line Change posted an upset victory in the $50,000 Floor Show Overnight Stakes at Delaware Park today. The Kentucky-bred trained by Gary Capuano returned $24.60 as the second longest shot in the field of six.
With Joshua Navarro aboard, the 3-year-old son Toccet out dueled the 6-to-5 favorite J W Blue, with Joseph Rocco Jr. aboard, in the stretch before winning by a head. I’m Steppin’ It Up, with Rosie Napravnik, cut early fractions of :48.39 for the half mile and 1:12.64 for three-quarters mile before fading to third 5-lengths behind the winner.
Line Change covered the mile and a sixteenth in 1:43.48 over a fast main track. Previously, he finished fourth in the $76,000 Spend A Buck Stakes at Monmouth on May 22. He sports a career record of five wins from eight starts with earnings of $106,470.
You can add George and Lori Hall’s Ruler On Ice, the recent winner of the Belmont Stakes, to the names of horses who have Delaware Park maiden victories who have followed with classic victories. Last year, the Kentucky-bred conditioned by Kelly Breen notched a head victory in a six furlong maiden at Delaware Park on October 4. Other horses who have recently broken their maiden at Delaware Park and followed with Graded victories include: Barbaro, Afleet Alex, Eight Belles, Havre de Grace, Hard Spun, Bellamy Road, Tapit, Proud Spell, Forever Together, High Limit Friesan Fire, Miss Shop, Old Fashioned, Sky Diva, Miraculous Miss, Scrappy T, Booklet, Manibhavan, Cool Coal Man, R Heat Lightning, and Joyful Victory.
Also on the undercard of the Belmont Stakes, Bim Bam, conditioned by Delaware Park based trainer Ron Moquett, ran second in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap.