Delaware Park 2018 horses to watch: Delp Memorial Stakes
by Frank Vespe
Less than three weeks ago, Dr Blarney took the DTHA Governor’s Day Handicap at Delaware Park, powering to a half-length victory after pressing a sharp early pace.
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts-bred Dublin gelding will look to reprise that effort when he goes postward in the $50,000, 1 1/16 mile Grover Buddy Delp Memorial Stakes at the same track. He is the 3-2 morning line favorite.
The Delp Memorial is carded as the eighth of 10 races on the Wednesday card. Post time for the card is 1:15 p.m. It is the final stake of the 2018 meeting at Delaware, which concludes on Saturday.
Dr Blarney, trained by Karl Grusmark, has been a win machine in his career. The five-year-old has won 17 of 23 career starts, earning over $517,000. He has won all six of his starts this year, six of seven at the 1 1/16 mile distance of the Delp, and four of five at Delaware. Regular pilot Tammi Piermarini will be aboard a runner who looks to be the controlling speed in the nine-horse field.
For all that, it’s an intriguing group of rivals he’s slated to face.
Second choice Unbridled Juan (3-1) made a spirited rally in the Governor’s Day, closing from last after he hopped at the start to be second, beaten just three-quarters of a length. That was just his fourth start in trainer Jose Corrales’ Laurel Park barn, and he sports a win, two seconds, and a third in those four tilts. Here, he’ll be hoping for Dr Blarney will face some pace pressure to soften him up for this one’s late kick. Alex Cintron will ride.
Trainer Robertino Diodoro claimed Rocky Tough (6-1) for $62,500 two races ago at Saratoga. He’s made one start since — on October 11 — the recency of which makes you wonder whether he’ll actually face the starter here. Diodoro has a good record — 24 percent — second off the claim and is slated to leg up Victor Carrasco on the deep closer.
Wild Scat Blue (8-1) also lands in this spot after running in the Governor’s Day, a race in which he was within a couple of lengths of the leaders for a half-mile before backing out readily to finish sixth. The Gerald Bennett trainee had been in good form prior to that with two firsts and a third in three previous local tries. Carol Cedeno, who will easily take the meet riding title, is named.
Just Call Kenny (10-1), a Virginia-bred son of Jump Start, will make his first start of 2018 here for trainer Pat McBurney. Just Call Kenny had his career-best outing in August 2017 when he won the Grade 3 Iselin at Monmouth Park. Forest Boyce is up.
Outside of Dr Blarney, one other horse enters this tilt having won a stake in his prior race. That’s the Claudio Gonzalez trainee Grasshoppin (15-1), who took the Roanoke for Pennsylvania-breds at Parx Racing September 1. It was his third win of the year — second in stakes company — and tenth of his career. He has earned over $580,000. Edwin Rivera — who is four-for-seven aboard Gonzalez-trained horses in the last 60 days — will ride.
Monongahela (10-1), who was fifth in the Roanoke; Honor the Fleet (15-1), who last out was eighth in the Challedon at Laurel Park; and Duff (10-1), second to Unbridled Juan in an open allowance at Laurel Park, complete the lineup.
Arabian handicapping is provided by our friends at Arabian Finish Line.
This $20,000 allowance race at a mile once again has a stakes caliber field. The favorite will likely be Quick And Rich, who beat many of these same horses last time out in a six furlong race. Mystical MHF ran second in that race and could certainly get a top three finish. The Goldensands entry of Madjikman and Bellfastt also has a shot, especially depending on the track condition. Madjikman, second last time out in the grade 1 President of the UAE Cup S. at Churchill Downs, prefers an off track at Delaware Park. The Cre Run entry of Thess Is Awesome and Colors In Motion will likely go off at longer odds, but both horses are capable of a top three finish. It should be an excellent race.