Del Cap Preview
Life At Ten in best form for Del Cap
The 5-year-old mare Life At Ten has been a late bloomer for trainer Todd Pletcher. Since she learned how to win, Life At Ten has been unbeatable.
After needing seven tries to clear her first allowance condition, Life At Ten has reeled off five consecutive victories since November while moving all the way up the class ladder to become a Grade 1 stakes winner in last month's Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park. She will be favored to make it six in a row when she faces five other fillies and mares in Saturday's Grade 2, $750,000 Delaware Handicap.
The 1 1/4-mile Del Cap, a Win and You're In qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, tops a three-stakes card that includes the Grade 3, $200,000 Robert Dick Memorial for fillies and mares on turf and the $100,000, 1 1/16-mile R.R.M. Carpenter Stakes on the main track. A win by Life At Ten would enable Pletcher to tie the record of four Del Cap victories held by Hall of Famer Henry Clark, who won the race twice with Endine (1958-59) and Obeah (1969-70).
Pletcher said that early in her career Life At Ten was probably miscast in a series of races on synthetic surfaces in California and Kentucky, followed by a pair of seven-furlong sprints on dirt at Saratoga.
"Some of her races were a little bit frustrating, but I think in retrospect we probably ran a few too many times on synthetic surfaces, which did not bring out her best," Pletcher said. "Also a couple of times last year, we ran her a little bit short of her best distances. Once she got into a good, stready rhythm, and since we have been able to keep her at a nice series of longer races, she has really developed into what we were hoping she could be."
Life At Ten's chief competition figures to come from Funny Moon, a Christophe Clement-trained 4-year-old who won last year's Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Del Cap and this spring's Grade 2 Shuvee. She finished 2 3/4 lengths behind Life At Ten in the Phipps.
Miss Singhsix, who won last month's 1 1/8-mile Obeah at Delaware after shipping from Florida, and the Canadian-based Milwaukee Appeal, a million-dollar earner but winless in her last eight starts, also merit respect.
by Joe DeVivo
GITCHEE GOMIE WARMS UP FOR SUNDAY
Saratoga, the annual feast and festival for racing fans, gets underway Friday.
Before then, Belmont Park finishes up Sunday with a 10-race card. The main event on the final program of the meet is a $38,000 first-level allowance for New York-bred filly and mare grass sprinters.
The race looks like an ideal getaway spot for Gitchee Goomie, the outside runner in the eight-horse field going six furlongs.
This will be her second start of the year following an illness that shut down her juvenile campaign and her second start for trainer Rick Violette.
A 3-year-old, Gitchee Goomie returned to action June 20 in an identical race. She did everything but win that afternoon, rallying from ninth to get second, losing by three-quarters of a length.
"I didn't know what to expect," Violette said. "I was just looking to get her career restarted. She had run twice last year and obviously shown she had some talent. Certainly, she had never sprinted. We kind of had our cake and ate it, too."
In her two starts on grass last season, Gitchee Goomie captured her debut at Saratoga going 1 1/16 miles before running sixth in the one-mile Natalma Stakes at Woodbine.
The turf sprint seemed like a logical comeback spot.
"That's about what she was fit to do," Violette said. "I didn't want to go two turns first time back and have her get real tired on us."
While he expects Gitchee Goomie to stretch out as the season progresses, Violette couldn't pass up a chance to knock off this condition.
"Obviously, she's talented and I think she does want to go a little longer," Violette said. "At the same time, you don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. This looks like a spot she's supposed to be in. If we get the job done, we can move on to bigger and better things."
Javier Castellano has the return call.
Linda Rice, who had Gitchee Goomie in her barn last season, is represented by Holy Blitzer, a dominant winner for last time for a $16,000 claiming tag.
Hangingonaprayer, fourth in the same race where Gitchee Goomie got second, has a history of running well the grass sprints with a record of 3-1-1 in 10 attempts.
Sky Fever will add blinkers and try turf for the first time.
by Mike Farrell
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