Delaware Park horses to watch: June 20, 2018
by Frank Vespe
Tesora will will look to remain undefeated when she makes her 2018 debut Wednesday in the $50,000 Christiana Stakes at Delaware Park. The 1 1/16-mile turf test for three-year-old fillies is scheduled as race eight on the nine-race card, with the finale for Arabians. Post time for the card is 1:15 p.m.
Trained by Jonathan Thomas, Tesora has been installed as the 4-1 morning line favorite in a full field that includes 11 in the main body of the field and two also-eligibles. Tesora, a daughter of Scat Daddy, won her only two starts of her juvenile campaign. She broke her maiden Gulfstream Park in September and followed that up with an allowance win in November at Del Mar. She hasn’t raced since but has been training well towards her seasonal debut here.
One of the most logical contenders here is Souper Striking (6-1). A Brilliant Speed filly trained by Mike Trombetta, Souper Striking has won three of her last four turf starts. Most recently, she posted a dominant, front-running score by a half-dozen lengths in the $100,000 Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico Preakness weekend. That win was over soft turf, so a handicapper might discount it somewhat. But she’s proven she doesn’t need the lead — or soft turf — to excel. Julian Pimentel, who rode her in the Hilltop, will do so again here.
A number of trainers with considerable success on the lawn are represented by runners in the Christiana.
Trainer Arnaud Delacour is scheduled to send out Layla Noor for owners Lael Stables. Layla Noor (10-1) has the look of a contender here; she broke her maiden on the lawn at Saratoga last August and in her follow-up, in the Grade 3 Jessamine, she was beaten less than five by subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf champ Rushing Fall. This will be her first time back on the grass since, and she’ll have red-hot Feargal Lynch in the irons.
Shug McGaughey and Phipps Stable will send out Closing Statement (5-1). The Blame filly broke her maiden last out, in her sixth career start, rallying from well back to score going away at Monmouth Park. Trevor McCarthy will ride.
And Graham Motion is slated to send out a pair in Peach of a Gal (10-1) and Mihrab (10-1). Peach of a Gal, who will have Jorge Vargas, Jr. in the irons, has won two of five starts and last out was third in the Hilltop. Mihrab, a Tiznow filly, made her career debut on the lawn — finishing fifth in a race won by Madame Milan, the kid half-sis of Barbaro — but has spent her last six starts on the main track, winning twice. Most recently, she was up the track in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Jevian Toledo is named. Motion is five-for-nine thus far at the meet.
Two runners here will make their grass debuts. The Mike Pino trainee Shape Shifter (12-1) has dominated his two main-track starts, winning both by a combined 15 lengths. He’ll have Mario Pino in the irons.
And Daisy, trained by John Servis, won the Grade 3 Tempted on the main track last November but hasn’t won since and last out finished 10th in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks. Frankie Pennington will ride.
Post time for the Christiana is 4:45 p.m.
- #10 Souper Striking (6-1): Has shown ability to lead or stalk and might be main speed here; solid resume to date, guns for second stake win
- #1 Layla Noor (10-1): Turf tries weren’t bad at all, and there’s no shame in losing to BC Juvy Filly Turf winner Rushing Fall; gets back to the green for first time in ’18
- #4 Tesora (4-1): Major player here based on spotless resume and solid worktab; trainer Thomas has solid record off layoffs, but this is no easy spot for season bow
- #5 Peach of a Gal (10-1): Has seen #10 in here twice, finishing just ahead of her in the G3 Florida Oaks in March and well behind last out in the Hilltop; may not have liked the boggy going at Old Hilltop that day; trainer-jock combo going gangbusters
Arabian handicapping is provided by our friends at Arabian Finish Line.
Today’s Arabian race is a competitive field of fillies and mares entered in an allowance/optional claiming contest at six furlongs. Owner/trainer combination Cre Run Enterprises LLC and Lynn Ashby continue their hot streak of wins and places. Their Fiftyshades Of Bay gets Darley Champion Keibar Coa aboard and should be the one to beat. Miss Paradise and Risky Red are both tough running mares that could easily figure in the top three with a return to last year’s form. Finally, Burning Vaz is making her 2018 debut at Delaware Park. Earlier this year she ran at Sam Houston where she had two wins and a third in five starts.