Looking back to Saturday’s entertainment, there was a controversial result in the only Grade 1 race of the day, the Delaware Handicap. I’m A Chatterbox, the 3/5 favorite bobbled badly at the start and then veered left causing significant interference to the 3 horses on her inside, notably Paid Up Subscriber, the second favorite.
Jockey Florent Geroux didn’t panic but straightened the favorite up and she stalked pacesetter, Mei Ling before easing past in the stretch and going on to beat Paid Up Subscriber by 2 ¼ lengths. Not surprisingly Paid Up Subscriber’s jockey cried foul but the track stewards allowed the favorite to keep the race. I have to say I am surprised by the stewards’ decision as the interference appeared significant although I am pretty sure the finishing positions would not have changed if the race was run “clean”.
The Del Cap was immediately followed on the card by the Kent Stakes, a mile and an eighth turf Grade 3 for three year olds worth $200,000. This looks a very competitive race but the market got it right with 7/4 favorite American Patriot taking the spoils. He also bobbled at the start but jockey Ortiz got him in a good stalking position and he ran down the front running He’ll Pay about 2 furlongs out and forged ahead under strong driving to win by 1 ½ lengths.
I liked the run of Inspector Lynley who had to be shuffled back at the start and made good headway to finish third, beaten just over 1 ½ lengths. He looks capable of winning in this grade with a trouble free and slightly longer trip.
Over at Indiana Grand, the track had pulled out all the stops for their big Saturday card, with a host of $100,000 stakes races supporting the big two events, the Indiana Oaks and Derby.
The Oaks looked at the mercy of Family Tree, who had won the Iowa Oaks just a couple of weeks ago previously, so long as she was fully recovered from those exertions. Recovered she had and stalking the pace early, she made her bid about 3 furlongs out and pulled away to beat second favourite, Emmzy, by 3 lengths.
Emmzy was not disgraced in her first run at this level. Agreed she was no match for the winner but it was 3 ¼ lengths back to the third and she can definitely pay her was in this grade. As for the winner, she now has a Grade 3 and Grade 2 race under her belt so, naturally, connections will be looking to the top of the tree in due course.
The next race on the card was the Indiana Derby, also a Grade 2 over a mile and a sixteenth but worth a very tasty $500,000. Cupid came here with some good back form but his recent runs had not been good. The market was confident he was over any problems and installed him the 7/4 favorite and the market got it spot on.
Jockey Bejarano rushed Cupid up to the front from the start and after a ½ mile duel with Pilot House Cupid skipped away and, although The Player closed late on, Cupid ran out a comfortable ¾ length winner despite not changing leads. Plans are fluid for this son of Tapit who seems to need two turns to be seen at his best. He has had breathing problems in the past (notably in the Arkansas Derby) and trainer Bob Baffert will assess carefully how he comes out of this race before making any plans.
Our final race in this 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. Amongst the starters for this hot looking race was last year’s winner, She’s Not Here. However, since that win she has been out of the money in every race and was an unfancied 9/1 to make it back to back victories in this prestigious race.
She’s Not Here was obviously delighted to be back at her favorite stamping ground and after stalking in about 4th place, she came wide into the straight, hit the front about 1 ½ furlongs out and held on gamely to prevail by a neck. I’m sure there will be plenty more opportunities for She’s Not Here in the upcoming Del Mar season.
Nancy From Nairobi deserves a mention as she bobbled at the start and got pushed back to last and was then forced wide when making her bid. She finished well and was only beaten ½ length in third. Compensation awaits for this five year old.