Five races for us to get our teeth into today and we start with Delaware, which stages the only Grade 1 Stakes race of the weekend, the Delaware Handicap commonly known as the Del Cap.
Just six fillies and mares face the starter for this mile and a quarter handicap worth a cool $750,000. The hot Morning Line favorite at 6/5 is I’m A Chatterbox. She had a very solid three year old career, finishing with a win in the Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx. She has been lightly raced in 2016 due to an ankle injury but showed she was in the rudest of health when she won the Obeah Stakes here by 8 ½ lengths, earning a Beyer of 94.
That was over a mile and an eighth so today she has to step up an extra furlong today, which is an unknown. She also has to give weight away to all her opponents. She looks the class horse in the race and, with doubts about the opposition, it is difficult to field against here. Penwith seems to falter in the highest grade and Mei Ling may lack the required pace dropping back 2 furlongs. Paid Up Subscriber looks interesting as she won Churchill Downs’ Fleur de Lis stakes easily last time out but, at 2/1 per the Morning Line, she does not stand out as a value alternative.
The other Delaware race under our spotlight is the Kent Stakes, a mile and an eighth turf Grade 3 for three year olds worth $200,000. This looks a very competitive race with marginal Morning Line favoritism going to Inspector Lynley at 5/2. For your information, Inspector Lynley was a fictional BBC TV detective, whose USP was that he was of the landed gentry being the 8th Earl of Asherton. Inspector Lynley came second in a Belmont allowance race last time out and will need to up his game over this extra furlong.
Although the 8 runners represent some of the finest trainers in the country, these horses are all about potential rather than proven form as only Converge has actually won a graded stakes race. Mighty Mo, who ran badly last time, interestingly brings one of the best pieces of form to the table in his neck second to Highland Sky in the Woodhaven Stakes, earning a Beyer of 87 (Highland Sky ran second to Deauville in the $1.25m Grade 1 Belmont Derby). There are too many unknowns in this race to make it a betting medium but, if pushed, Mighty Mo would be my selection.
Next stop is Indiana for their valuable Oaks and Derby card. The Oaks is the 8th race on the Indiana Grand card and 8 runners will face the starter for this Grade 2 mile and a sixteenth race worth $200,000.
All eyes will be on 7/5 ML favorite, Family Tree, who won the Iowa Oaks just a couple of weeks ago. So long as she has fully recovered from her exertions, she must have a great chance. If she hasn’t then Bob Baffert’s Emmzy could well pick up the pieces. She has really blossomed since being stepped up to these sort of trips and could be on the upgrade.
The next race on the card is the Indiana Derby, also a Grade 2 over a mile and a sixteenth but worth a very tasty $500,000. The two most famous names in this race are Cupid and Cherry Wine and they are priced accordingly at around 5/2. Cherry Wine’s second in the Preakness should give him a great chance but I feel he was flattered by that run as the pace was pretty suicidal and opened the door to a closer. I feel he is a bit one-paced and could be exposed at today’s trip.
I like the look of The Player, who looks to be developing into a serious racehorse and fully deserves the step up into this company. He has plenty of pace and has had a 6 week lay-off since his win in a mile allowance race at Churchill Downs.
Our final race in this week’s review is Del Mar’s Yellow Ribbon Handicap, a $200.000 grade 2 race for fillies and mares over a mile and a sixteenth of the turf track. This looks a really hot renewal of this race with plenty of horses coming here on the back of Beyers in the 90s.
The 3/1 ML favourite in this field of 9 is Nancy From Nairobi, who was 6th in the grade 1 Gamely Stakes getting stuck on the inside and never getting the chance to make her run. Even so she was only beaten 2 ½ lengths. She has been working really well and connections are confident of a good run.
Her Emmynency looks a big price at 6/1 per the Morning Line. A reproduction of her win in last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup would see her win this and there are excuses for her last two failures as she lost a shoe in the first and, in the second, she broke poorly and met horrendous problems in her run. If she can break well (and that’s the big if) from gate 3 then she must go close.