Afleet Willy track record highlights Owners’ Day
by Frank Vespe
On a day when Delaware Park showcased its best, four-year-old Afleet Willy showcased his, and the result was a new track record.
Afleet Willy, a Wilburn gelding trained by Claudio Gonzalez for BB Horses, posted a dominant 5 3/4 length victory in the $75,000 DTHA Governors Day Handicap Saturday over five rivals. Running time for the 1 mile 70 yards was 1:38.58 — shattering Distinct Vision’s 2003 record of 1:39.20 for the trip.
“He went really easy and when I asked him to go around the far turn, he really turned it on,” said winning rider Jomar Torres.
Afleet Willy’s win came in the first of seven stakes, one for Arabians, comprising the track’s 25th annual Owners’ Day. Handle on the day was $1.07 million, an increase of more than 20 percent from 2016, when the day was held September 10.
Afleet Willy, claimed by Gonzalez out of his maiden-break score in December 2015, now has nine wins from 23 career starts and earnings of more than $300,000.
Saturday, he benefited from the scratches of three other horses — Warrioroftheroses, Dr Blarney, and All Out of Aces — who figured to be part of the early pace mix. That left him the speed of the speed, and he cut half-mile and six-furlong fractions of 45.96 and 1:09.71 with Twocubanbrothersu chasing in second, the two of them well clear of their rivals.
For comparison purposes, the six-furlong time of 1:09.71 was faster than sprinters managed the same distance seven races later in the New Castle Stakes.
Twocubanbrothersu held second, while Fellowship, a runner who figured to benefit had all the speed horses remained in, was along for third.
Another race in which scratches played a role was the George Rosenberger Memorial Stakes, for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the turf and, like the Governor’s Day, restricted to horses that had started previously at Delaware Park during the meet. That race lost four runners, including 7-2 Bishop’s Pond and 6-1 Lift Up.
Those scratches moved Laur Net, a six-year-old Strong Hope mare, into the eight-hole — from the 12. The Aldana Gonzalez trainee, a $62,500 claim for Looch Racing Stables five back, rallied along the inside to post a 1 1/4 length win in 1:42.30. Boreale, the 6-5 favorite, finished second, and longshot Nawlins Kitty was third.
Laur Net paid $15.40 to win.
“Since we drew an outside post, I was a little concerned about saving ground,” said winning rider Scott Spieth. “Fortunately, I got her down on the inside going around the first turn where we saved ground. Going into the far turn, the #4 horse (Wowwhatabrat) was fortunately backing up which allowed us to shoot to the fence. From there, it was just about being patient. I knew once he opened up, I was loaded and had plenty of horse.”
In the day’s other stakes:
- Whereshetoldmetogo scored a 9-1 upset in the First State Dash for Delaware-certified two-year-olds, overhauling leader Jamaican Don to win by a half-length in 1:03.83 for 5 1/2 furlongs. Prince Lucky, a dazzling first out winner and the 3-10 favorite here, was third. Whereshetoldmetogo was ridden by Victor Lebron for trainer Anthony Pecoraro.
- Favored Enchanted Star went to the lead and didn’t look back, winning the Small Wonder for DEL-certified two-year-old fillies. She completed the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.16 under Jomar Torres. She now has two wins from three starts for trainer Gary Capuano and owner Oak Tree Stable.
- Odds-on choice Hailey’s Flip proved best in the Tax Free Shopping Distaff, for Delaware-certified fillies and mares three and up, winning by almost two lengths in 1:10.62 for six furlongs. It was her first stakes win and fifth win overall. The win was the third stakes win of the day for jockey Jomar Torres and second for trainer Gary Capuano. Hailey’s Flip is owned by Daniel Crowley.
- Winplaceorshowono won for the third time in five starts to take the New Castle Stakes for three-year-olds and up that are Delaware-certified. The win prevented the day from being a total washout for Alex Cintron, who gave up some live mounts in Maryland, including that on Just Howard, who won the Grade 3 Commonwealth Derby, to ride here but was defeated on a pair of favorites, including 3-10 Prince Lucky, earlier on the card. Running time for the six furlongs was 1:10.59. Winplaceorshowono is trained by Ron Alfano for Rickman Racing LLC.
- RB Kinkie Boots won the Grade 3 Delaware Park Arabian Juvenile Championship Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths.