Delaware Cap Preview
Havre de Grace likely favorite over Blind Luck in Delaware 'Cap
Round 6 in the long battle between BLIND LUCK (Pollard's Vision) and HAVRE DE GRACE (Saint Liam) is set for Saturday when the two filly heavyweights square off against three challengers in the $750,000 Delaware H. (G2) over 1 1/4 miles.
While often bandied about and used indiscriminately within the Thoroughbred sport, the term "rivalry" best sums up what the two four-year-old fillies have been engaged in for the past two seasons. And it's been one in the truest sense as Blind Luck presently holds a mere 3-2 edge over Havre de Grace, with three of their prior meetings decided by photo finishes.
Blind Luck, named three-year-old filly champion after defeating Havre de Grace in three of four meetings last year, for the first time enters one of their showdowns as the underdog. Havre de Grace, undefeated in three starts this year, was assigned 124 pounds for the Del 'Cap, while Blind Luck will be in receipt of two pounds.
Delaware Park was the sight of their first meeting last summer. Already a multiple Grade 1 winner at the time of the Delaware Oaks (G2), Blind Luck had to dig deep to repel her then stakes-placed rival by a nose while conceding six pounds. At equal weights in the Alabama S. (G1) at Saratoga, Blind Luck again proved victorious by a neck, but the roles were reversed when Havre de Grace won the Cotillion S. (G2) by a neck over Blind Luck when getting 10 pounds. The two met for a final time in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (G1), where Blind Luck beat Havre de Grace by a length for second money.
The two met most recently in the March 19 Azeri S. (G3) at Oaklawn Park. At equal weights, Havre de Grace thrashed Blind Luck by 3 1/4 lengths without the benefit of a prep. For Blind Luck, it was her fifth consecutive runner-up finish dating back to the Cotillion. She had preceded the Azeri with second-place efforts in the El Encino S. (G2) and La Canada S. (G2).
The connections of Blind Luck forfeited the Apple Blossom H. (G1) to Havre de Grace, who bested Switch (Quiet American) by three parts of a length in Oaklawn's premier feature for fillies and mares. Havre de Grace later added the Obeah S. (G3) at Delaware by 2 1/4 lengths, and her BRIS Speed ratings this year of 106-111-102 have leant weight to the argument she might be the best older horse in U.S. regardless of sex.
Another win against Blind Luck Saturday might propel Havre de Grace into the Horse of the Year debate and a potential meeting against males. However, it's far too early to be looking ahead, as Blind Luck has seemingly returned to her old self with consecutive wins in the La Troienne S. (G2) and Vanity H. (G1). In addition, the 10-furlong distance might arguably work to the advantage of Jerry Hollendorfer's long-winded, late-closing filly.
LIFE AT TEN (Malibu Moon) will attempt to become the first repeat winner of the Del 'Cap since Nastique (1988-89), but is presently a shell of her former self. After her controversial easing at the Breeders' Cup, the Todd Pletcher trainee has run well below par her best in three outings this year. She was most recently fourth to stablemate Awesome Maria (Maria's Mon) in the Ogden Phipps H. (G1), another race she had won last season.
Looking overmatched on paper despite being in receipt of significant weight are THUNDERING EMILIA (Thunder Gulch), runner up in the John W. Rooney Memorial S. in her U.S. debut, and the Maryland-bred stakes winner LOVE'S BLUSH (Not for Love).
TEMPTED TO TAPIT (Tapit), who returned from a 14-month absence June 13 to take an entry-level allowance in gate-to-wire fashion, should be one of the favorites in the $100,000 R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial H. at 1 1/16 miles. Prior to his infirmity-enforced layoff, the Steve Klesaris charge had run second in the Risen Star S. (G2) and third in the Sunland Derby (G3).
Others of note are the 2010 Carpenter second and third, EDGEWATER (Lion Heart) and ALMA D'ORO (Medaglia d'Oro), and stakes veterans FRIESAN FIRE (A.P. Indy), NOT ABROAD (Not for Love), NACHO FRIEND (Friends Lake) and IN THE JUICE (Rock Slide).
BIM BAM (Deputy Wild Card), a surprise second in the June 11 Manhattan H. (G1), returns in the $100,000 Sussex S. over 1 1/16 miles on the turf where he will face six challengers.
Bizzy Caroline highlights six entered in American Oaks
BIZZY CAROLINE (Afleet Alex) will seek to extend her current win streak to four straight when lining up in Saturday's $250,000 American Oaks S. (G1) at Hollywood Park. The turf contest has drawn only six sophomore fillies to go 1 1/4 miles, and is the highlight of three stakes events on Saturday's Southern California card.
Trained by Kenny McPeek, Bizzy Caroline took four tries to break her maiden but hasn't lost since that April 28 grass contest at Keeneland. The dark bay miss followed up with a seven-length allowance score at Churchill Downs and then made her stakes bow in the Regret S. (G3) under the Twin Spires. The three-year-old was pulling off at the wire of that nine-furlong event, and drilled a nice half-mile in :47 4/5 over the course on Sunday in preparation for this one. Rafael Bejarano will take the reins for the first time.
Among those looking to derail Bizzy Caroline's winning skein are CAMBINA (Ire) (Hawk Wing) and STAR BILLING (Dynaformer). The former captured the Providencia S. (G2), La Habra S. (G3) and China Doll S. earlier this season and has finished third in her past two, the Honeymoon H. (G2) and Senorita S. (G3). Star Billing has got the best of Cambina the last two times they met. The bay filly took the Senorita prior to suffering the first loss of her lightly raced career in the Honeymoon while still claiming second by a head over Cambina. Martin Garcia has the call aboard Cambina for trainer Jeff Bonde, while John Shirreffs will give a leg up to Joel Rosario on Star Billing.
ENTRUSTMENT (Forestry) was only a half-length behind Cambina in the Honeymoon and was sandwiched between her and Star Billing when second in the Senorita. She'll be looking to turn the tables on those two in this spot under Alonso Quinonez.
Hollywood Oaks (G2) third LOVE THEWAY YOUARE (Arch) will be making her grass debut here and NEREID (Rock Hard Ten) will be facing stakes competition for the first time. The pair complete the American Oaks field.
Later on the card, nine are scheduled to contest the $200,000 A Gleam H. (G2) going seven furlongs. ULTRA BLEND (Richly Blended) and AMERICAN STORY (Ghostzapper) were placed one-two in the Milady H. (G2) following the disqualification of winner St Trinians (GB) (Piccolo) and will take on Madison S. (G1) victress SHOTGUN GULCH (Thunder Gulch), Santa Paula S. heroine MILDLY OFFENSIVE (Sharp Humor) and Grade 2 queen WASHINGTON BRIDGE (Yankee Gentleman) in the A Gleam.
Hollywood's Saturday stakes action will begin in the $100,000 Landaluce S. for juvenile fillies sprinting six furlongs. Cinderella S. second CHLOE W (El Corredor) will renew her rivalry with that race's winner, KILLER GRACES (Congaree). The Landaluce also drew nice maiden scorers WOEBEGON (Saint Anddan) and MIGHTY CAROLINE (Stormy Atlantic).
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