Delaware Park horses to watch: Winter Melody Stakes
by Frank Vespe
Delaware Park’s Thursday feature is the $50,000 Winter Melody Stakes for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the main track, and it’s attracted an evenly matched field of eight in search of black type and the big share of the purse.
#2 In the Navy Now (4-1) may have the best overall resume here, though her recent form doesn’t quite get there. The Midshipman filly placed in a pair of 2016 stakes, the Caesar’s Wish and the Weber City Miss, both at Laurel Park. In the latter, she actually crossed the line first but was disqualified for bumping and placed second. But she enters this one stuck at the second allowance level, having lost four straight, including, in her last, to the favorite in here.
That morning line favorite is #7 Moonlight Basin (5-2), a Tim Kreiser trainee who’s been making hay at Penn National. The four-year-old Eurosilver filly — a Minnesota-bred — has won the same condition of race three times in her last seven starts. Twice, she won the second allowance/optional claiming test for the $25,000 tag, and last out she knocked off the condition. She’s a speedy sort who figures to be gunning for the early lead under jockey William Otero, and she’s never been worse than third in four tries at the trip.
She’s likely to have company on the front end, though. #4 Saida (12-1) is almost always in the lead at the first call, and that could complicate things for Moonlight Basin. Two back, the Cal Lynch trainee thrashed first allowance foes in an off-the-turf tilt at Laurel Park, and her two nearest pursuers won their follow-ups. J. D. Acosta, a rider adept at getting horses out of the gate, will ride, and if she can clear early, she may stand a fighting chance here.
Another horse likely to be involved in the early going here is #1 Analyze (6-1). This Michael Matz-trained runner did not run well last out when on the grass, but she’d been in good dirt form prior, including finishing ahead of In the Navy Now two back, and she owns a win over the strip. Alex Cintron will ride.
A runner who has shown the ability to compete in stakes company, albeit against straight three-year-olds, is #3 Who’s the Lady (8-1). The Kathleen O’Connell trainee has won five of her eight career starts, including a pair of added-money events. In fact, if you toss her two graded tries (when 46-1 and 60-1) and a race on the grass (when 22-1), this Munnings filly is undefeated. She hasn’t raced since August 12 and will be trying her elders for the first time, but she seems to be working well and rates a big shot, particularly at a possible value price. Frankie Pennington will ride.
The rest of the field includes the solid Cayman Croc (7-2), from the Kelly Breen barn; Jamie Ness’s Enterprising Lady (8-1); and Mary Eppler trainee Super Sharp (10-1). Post time for the Winter Melody is 3:57 p.m.
- Who’s the Lady
- Moonlight Basin
- In the Navy Now
Arabian handicapping is provided by our friends at Arabian Finish Line.
An excellent field has come together for an allowance/optional claiming race at 1 1/16 miles. Kao Maloan SWA and Thess Is Awesome are both coming off of decent performances against the best in the country at Churchill Downs. This shorter distance (compared to 1 1/4 miles) better suits both of them. Mystical MHF blew away the field in his last start, a non-winners of two at this distance, and takes a step up in competition. If he runs that way again, he could be tough. However, he and Thess Is Awesome may both want to be on the lead so we will have to see how it plays out.