Split into two divisions, today’s Justakiss Stakes at Delaware Park has nevertheless drawn two well-matched groups of 13.
The $50,000 event, for fillies and mares three and up going 1 1/16 miles on the turf, will remain on the lawn, though an earlier grass race on the card has been shifted to the main track.
In the first division, carded as race five and scheduled for a 3:15 post time, Shug McGaughey trainee #11 Tokyo Time gets the nod as the lukewarm 7-2 morning line favorite. The five-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has moved through all her allowance conditions but has yet to break through in stakes company, most recently running fourth in Monmouth Park’s Miss Liberty. Abel Castellano has the mount.
But if you’re looking to beat the favorite, there are plenty of enticing choices.
On the far outside, #13 Interrupted (5-1), with Angel Serpa up, will need to work out a trip, which may be tricky. But the winner of last year’s Penn Oaks, who also placed in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks, has never been out of the money in five grass starts and had a useful return to the races last out, running third against allowance foes at Churchill Downs. A little farther inside, #9 Granny Mc’s Kitten (9-2) and Trevor McCarthy is another who rates a look; she won her seasonal debut last out and will look to get back to the stakes-winning ways she showed in taking the ’13 P.G. Johnson.
A couple of longshots also might be in play here. #8 Fasnacloich (20-1) should appreciate the class relief after running a very good third in the Dahlia at Pimlico in April, then fifth in the Grade 3 Gallorette. And #5 Party Starter (20-1) nearly stole the Lady Baltimore on the front end, failing late at 80-1 odds; she’ll look to reprise that trip here.
In the race’s second division, to be run as race 7 (4:15 post time), Graham Motion trainee #10 Lady of Gold (3-1) is the a.m. favorite with Trevor McCarthy up. She’s placed in a pair of grade 3 events but has yet to hit the line first in a stake. She’ll be confronted by, among others, second favorite #13 Theatre Star (4-1). The Tom Proctor trainee most recently was second in the Golden Poppy at Golden Gate Fields and, like Lady of Gold, has yet to break through against stakes foes.
A bevy of runners in the second division ran in Pimlico’s Dahlia and might compete well here. They include #2 Latique (6-1), who was sixth but beaten just 2 1/2 lengths that day; #6 Vicky Ticky Tavie (20-1), who was a length behind that rival; #7 Lily Carstairs (15-1), who was another half-length back but figures to improve in her second start since arriving from France; and #9 Giant Shadow (20-1), who finished 10th but has won three of four at today’s 1 1/16 mile distance.
One other horse worth a look is #11 Vielsalm (20-1). Though she’s winless at the distance and at Delaware, the Dylan Smith trainee won last year’s All Brandy at Laurel over a surprisingly solid group of Maryland-breds and ought to appreciate stretching out to a two-turn race after a pair of credible efforts sprinting.
The Justakiss serves as a local prep for the Grade 3 Robert Dick Memorial, a 1 3/8 mile turf test to be run on July 11, Delaware Oaks day.