All systems are on go for the 124 pound high weight and likely favorite Royal Delta for the 75th running of the $750,000 Grade II Delaware Handicap this Saturday. The draw for the mile-and-a-quarter filly and mare summer classic will be on Wednesday.
Royal Delta, a Kentucky-bred conditioned by William Mott, breezed five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 on Sunday.
“She is doing great,” said trainer William Mott. “She had a work at Belmont on Sunday. It was a very nice work. The plan is to bring her to Delaware on race day.”
After finishing second in the Grade III Sabin at Gulfstream Park on February 25 and ninth in the Grade I Emirates Air Dubai World Cup, the 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker bounced back in spectacular fashion in her most recent. On June 16, she notched an 8-length score in the Grade II Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs.
“They keep us guessing some times don’t they,” Mott said. “You never know.”
Last year, Royal Delta had four wins, a second and a third from seven starts including victories in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, Grade I Alabama, and Grade II Black Eyed Susan Stakes.
“From this time last year, she is more mature and more professional at this stage of the year,” Mott said.
Mott is not concerned with the mile-and-a-quarter; she won at that distance in the Alabama at Saratoga last year, as much as this will be Royal Delta’s first start at Delaware Park.
“The distance does not bother me, but I have heard it can be tough to ship into Delaware,” he said.
She has a career record of six wins, two seconds and a third from 11 starts with earnings of $1,813,851.
Trainer Richard Violette Jr. cannot wait to see how Cash for Clunkers will do in the mile-and-a-quarter $750,000 Grade II Delaware Handicap this Saturday.
“Pedigree wise, she is supposed to be able to get a mile-and-a-quarter, it is a great race and I am dying to try it,” said trainer Richard Violette, Jr. “She is training very very well so we are looking forward to the race. Cash for Clunkers does not have to be on the lead. She is kind of a free galloping filly, but if somebody wants to go faster then us early that is fine. We can let them go or we can lead the way as well. But I think the mile-and-a-quarter around two-turns is a better race for her. I think this race is very very much within her scope, so I am very excited about trying it.”
In her most recent, the 4-year-old daughter of Tiznow led the way before finishing second to It’s Tricky in the mile and a sixteenth (one-turn) Grade I Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park on May 28. Previously, the Kentucky-bred was unbeaten this year with a victory in the $90,000 Heatherten at Belmont Park and two allowance scores. She has a career record of four wins, two seconds and as third from seven starts with earnings of $261,000.
Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable and The Elkstone Group’s Grace Hall did as she was expected to do and won the $400,000 Grade II Delaware Oaks today in easy fashion. With Javier Castellano aboard, the daughter of Empire Maker notched a 3 ¾-length victory and returned $2.80 as the favorite in the field of five. The Kentucky-bred trained by locally-based Anthony Dutrow covered the mile and a sixteenth in 1:42.59 over fast main track. Via Villaggio, with Kent Desmoreaux, finished second and it was another 2 ¼-lengths farther back to Amie’s Dini, with Jon Court, in third.
Winning jockey Javier Castellano had nothing but praise for his filly.
“She is a phenomenal filly,” said jockey Javier Castellano. “I am very proud of her. She is unbelievable. “She took off from the quarter-pole home. She was ready to run today.”
Winning trainer Anthony Dutrow won the race he had watched as child over and over again at Delaware Park.
“The Delaware Oaks is a very special race,” said trainer Anthony Dutrow. “I am overwhelmed. She ran the way she was training. I am very happy with her performance today. I was anxiously watching the race and when I saw Javier (Castellano) a t the top of the stretch, I knew it was over. Up and until then, I was watching with anticipation. She finished up full run and it looks like the added distance will not be a problem. I have watched the Delaware Oaks since I was a little kid around ten years-old. There have been so many great fillies to win this race and to watch this race growing up and finally winning it after finishing second and third a few times, I cannot thank the people who helped me get here enough. Now we are off to Alabama at Saratoga.”
Grace Hall raised her career record to five wins from eight starts with earnings of $1,140,000.
Juddmonte Farms’ Starformer scored a gate-to-wire victory in the $200,000 Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park today.
With Edgar Prado aboard, the Kentucky-bred conditioned by William Mott cut early fractions of :50.56 for the half-mile, 1:15.90 for the three-quarters mile and 1:40.10 for the mile before completing the mile and three-eighths over a firm turf course in 2:15.19 The 4-year-old daughter of Dynaformer won by 3-lengths and returned $10.00 as the third choice in the field of eight.
Bubbly Jane, the 9-to-5 favorite with Javier Castellano, finished second and it was a head farther back to Sikara, with Jeremy Rose, in third.
Starformer raised her career record to three wins from ten starts with earnings of $214,794.
Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and the Elkstone Group’s Grace Hall top the Grade II Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park this Saturday. The mile-and-a-sixteenth $400,000 filly classic has attracted a field of seven.
In her most recent, the locally-based daughter of Empire Maker, who broke her maiden at Delaware Park in her career debut on July 11, 2011, finished third in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 4. The winner of the Kentucky Oaks, Believe You Can, and the second-place finisher, Broadway’s Alibi, also broke their maidens at Delaware Park in 2011.
“It really is a small world, I mean who would have thought the three fillies that broke their maidens at Delaware Park would have come back the following year and ran one-two-three in the Kentucky Oaks,” said Grace Hall’s trainer Anthony Dutrow. “It is a small world. In the Kentucky Oaks, we did not have any excuses. She went into the race very well and obviously she ran well against the best fillies in training.”
Previously, Grace Hall won the Grade II Gulfstream Park Oaks by 6½ lengths on March 31. In her only other outing this year, she finished second in Grade II Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 25. In her most recent workout, she breezed four furlongs at Delaware Park in :47 on July 8.
“Grace Hall is doing great,” Dutrow said. “She could not be doing better. We feel she is coming into the Oaks in excellent shape in every way. She was very impressive in her last workout on Sunday.”
Last year, after breaking her maiden in her career debut at Delaware Park, Grace Hall followed with a victory in the Grade I Spinaway at Saratoga, a win in the $75,000 Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware Park and a second in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs. She has a career record of four wins, two seconds and a third from seven starts, with earnings of $900,000.
Dutrow has also entered Green Lantern Stables Wicked Mizz in the Delaware Oaks. In her most recent, the daughter of Mizzen Mast notched a 2¼-length in the $75,000 Go For Wand Stakes at Delaware Park on June 9. Previously, the Florida-bred ran second in the $75,000 Limit Stakes at Aqueduct on March 14. She sports a career record of two wins, a second and a third from four starts, with earnings of $92,000.
Dutrow was not surprised by her effort in the Go For Wand Stakes. His only surprise was her paying $16.20 for win.
“We thought Wicked Mizz was improving and was going to run a good race that day,” said Anthony Dutrow. “She had good form, she was lightly raced, but I am not sure why she did not have more bet on her.”
After the Delaware Oaks both horses could be pointed for stakes at Saratoga later this summer.
“If everything goes as planned, Grace Hall will point for the Alabama at Saratoga,” Dutrow said. “As far as Wicked Mizz, she has a lot to prove, and we are hopeful she will.”
Jerry Hollendorfer, who won the 2010 Delaware Oaks and the 2011 Delaware Handicap with Blind Luck, has entered Steve Beneto’s Via Villaggio. After 11 starts in California, the Delaware Oaks will be the East Coast debut for the daughter of Bernadini. In her most recent, the Kentucky-bred ran third in the Grade II Hollywood Oaks on June 23. Previously, she won the Grade III Railbird Stakes. She has a career record of three wins, three seconds and three thirds from 11 starts, with earnings of $139,070.
“She seems to be coming around now and she has run nice races in her last two,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “Her last two races were on artificial surfaces, but we want to try her on the dirt. I would rather try her on the dirt instead of the turf. Most of the races for her at Del Mar would be on the turf, as matter of fact of all of them. I know we are meeting a tough filly (Grace Hall), but I wanted to try Via Villaggio in this spot. The timing and the conditions fits with what I want to do with her now. So if she does run well on the dirt, then it would open up a lot more options for her.”
In 2008, Hollendorfer won his first Delaware Handicap with Hysterical Lady.
Haras Interlagos’s Bubbly Jane rates as the slight favorite in the $200,000 Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park this Saturday. The mile-and-three-eighths turf test for fillies and mares, which is the supporting feature on the Delaware Oaks card, has attracted a field of eight.
Bubbly Jane ran second beaten 3 ¾-lengths in the Robert G. Memorial last year. The 7-year-old daughter of Yagil has made only two starts since then. The Brazil-bred conditioned by Todd Pletcher followed by being finishing unplaced in the $77,000 Omnibus Stakes at Monmouth Park on September 5. In her only outing this year, she ran second beaten a length in the $90,000 Mohegan Sky at Belmont Park on June 16. She has a career record of six wins, three seconds and two thirds from 14 starts with earnings of $247,527.
Lael Stable’s Senada rates as the second choice. In her most recent, she finished third in the Grade III Bewitch at Keeneland on April 26. Previously, the 5-year-old daughter of Pulpit ran seventh in the Grade III Orchid Handicap at Gulfstream Park on March 31. The Kentucky-bred trained by Jonathan Sheppard has a career record of two wins, four seconds, and eight thirds from 20 starts.
Growing up in the mid-Atlantic region and being the son of a former three-time Delaware Park leading trainer, Anthony Dutrow has seen and been involved with some of the greatest races at Delaware Park.
The 54-year-old native of Hagerstown, Maryland, notched his first career training victory at Delaware Park with a horse named Attainable in 1978, which was the third consecutive year his father Richard was the leading trainer at the track. Anthony Dutrow has won more than 14 stakes at Delaware Park. He has won the local prep for the Delaware Oaks four-times, but he has never won the Delaware Oaks or the Delaware Handicap.
He will take another shot at the $400,000 Grade II Delaware Oaks this Saturday. He will likely enter Grace Hall, third recently in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks, and Wicked Mizz, the recent winner of the $75,000 Go for Wand at Delaware Park, when entries are taken for the mile-and-a-sixteenth affair this Wednesday.
Dutrow thought he had won the Delaware Oaks in 2010 with Havre de Grace. In deep stretch, Havre de Grace took a brief lead, but Blind Luck nipped her in the final jump in the first of the six race rivalry.
Dutrow had the same reaction as everybody else in the crowd that day.
“Watching the race, I thought we won,” said Dutrow. “But when I saw the photo for the win, it confirmed we had lost. It is still hard to believe, but those were two very very special fillies.”
Dutrow knows the history of the Delaware Park filly and mare classics as well as anybody. He understands what it means to be a part of those traditions.
“Having grown up in this area and having the benefit of watching these races for the last 45 years, with all the great fillies and their great connections, I could not help to want to be in a position to win these races,” he said. “As a young man and throughout my career, I have seen so many great fillies participate in these races and it would be a bit of a dream come true to be able to win them. Relaxing, the dam of Easy Goer, and Mississippi Mud, the dam of Dixieland Band, and so many of the great fillies and mares ran in the Delaware Park classics for females. The connections with these horses are all legendary. Just to name a few, you have Ogden Phipps, Jane Lunger, Bayard Sharp and Del Carroll and so many other legendary names. It would be very special and may be a little overwhelming for me to be able to win one. We have come close before, so hopefully we will be able to get it done this Saturday.”
Both Grace Hall and Wicked Mizz have been stabled at Delaware Park since the beginning of the season. On July 8, Grace Hall breezed a half-mile in :47, and on June 30 she breezed four furlongs in :47.20. On July 9, Wicked Mizz breezed four furlongs in :48.40, and on July 2 she breezed four furlongs in :48.20
Trainer Ron Moquett is leaning toward entering Amie’s Dini in the $400,000 Grade II Delaware Oaks this Saturday. Entries will be taken for the mile-and-a-sixteenth affair this Wednesday.
“We are really undecided right now, but we are leaning toward entering in the Delaware Oaks,” said trainer Ron Moquett. “She is doing a great, and it seems like she really likes the track. I flew her up from Churchill in time to work and train her in preparation should we decide to go.”
In her most recent, Amie’s Dini finished eighth after a troubled trip in the mile-and-an-eighth Grade I Kentucky Oaks on May 4. Previously, the Kentucky-bred ran second in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Grade II Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park on April 11. She breezed five furlongs in :59.60 at Delaware Park on July 6.
“In the Kentucky Oaks, she was five wide throughout the whole race and she still tried,” he said. “I look for her to get a better trip here, and I look for her to rebound. She will have to run her best race because there are some pretty good fillies pointing for the race, but we are ready for her to give a good effort.”
Amie’s Dini has a career record of three wins, three seconds and a third from eight starts, with earnings of $193,896.
Acting upon the recommendation of Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission Chief Veterinarian Dr. John T. Peters, live racing scheduled for this Saturday, July 7, has been cancelled, due to the excessive heat forecasted for the region.
The National Weather Service has predicted a high temperature of 101 degrees, with a heat index of up to 109.
Peters said racing under such conditions would pose substantial health risk to horses, riders and participants.
Racing is expected to resume Monday, July 9.
The races scheduled for Saturday, July 7, including the Par Four Overnight Stakes, will be brought back as extra races and redrawn next week.
Acting upon the recommendation of the Chief Commission Veterinarian for the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission, Delaware Park has cancelled the live racing card scheduled for this Saturday, June 30, due to the excessive heat forecasted for the region.
The national weather service has predicted temperatures above 99 degrees with a heat index of 108.
“Racing in such weather would potentially place the health of the horses and riders at risk,” said Dr. John T. Peters, the Chief Commission Veterinarian for the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission.
Live racing is scheduled to resume Monday, July 2.