In Focus: Wagering Delaware Oaks Day 2019
O Dionysus (#10) and Alex Cintron prevailed in the Cape Henlopen Stakes. Photo by Allison Janezic.
Our In Focus Guide offers the most in-depth analysis and commentary to the four stakes, two graded, Saturday at Delaware Park!
Plus, these picks can help you play our FREE handicapping contest!
RACE 4 – CAPE HENLOPEN STAKES
RACE PARTICULARS: Race 4 (2:54 pm EDT), $75,000 guaranteed purse for 3yo and up, 1 1/2 miles (turf)
- Archaggelos (10-1): He looks like the primary early speed of the field, but he’s had trouble lasting beyond nine furlongs. How will he do over 12 furlongs?
- Canessar (5-1): Takes a drop down in class after a string of tries against graded stakes company, has been running huge speed figures, and is proven at the distance. The one to beat.
- O Dionysus (9-2): Maryland-bred hopeful fell short last out at 1 1/16 miles, unable to outkick his rivals. However, he did win this race last year while on the pace, and it looks like he’s shown improvement in his figures from age 4 to 5. Cannot be discounted.
- Surprise Twist (15-1): He’s dropped two in a row as the favorite at Laurel Park, but also looks to be in career-best form. Should be coming from the back of the pack.
- Mantiloulin (12-1): Classy gelding has beaten much better in the past, but he hasn’t raced since September 8, and Michael Matz usually isn’t good with horses first off the long layoff. I can’t help but think that he’s using this one as a prep for a bigger spot down the road.
- Colonel Juan (20-1): Cross-entered in the Carl Hanford Stakes, and would probably fit better in there, as his two turf races were uninspiring.
- Warrioroftheroses (15-1): MTO entrant is also entered in the Carl Hanford Stakes. Can’t help but think he’d be better suited there no matter what, as he doesn’t have any recent lines beyond 1 1/16 miles.
- Sonneteer (6-1): Easily won a 12-furlong stake at Churchill Downs two starts back, then just missed in the grade 2 Brooklyn at the same distance. He does have a win over turf, but that was against maidens at Del Mar. The distance is not a question, but the surface is.
- Vettori Kin (3-1): He had no chance when severely pace-compromised last out. Made up huge amounts of ground two and three back against better rivals. The key for Lanerie will be to read the pace correctly and set him up to make a winning move.
- Pizmo Time (10-1): This Maryland-bred is on a hot streak, having won three straight races. However, he’s got a real grinding style of running, and doesn’t like to pull away from horses. That means Jorge Vargas will have to time his move just about perfectly with this one: not easy to do in a marathon race. His ninth-place finish in the Laurel Turf Cup back in ‘17 doesn’t inspire optimism.
- Positivist (15-1): Hasn’t run a remotely competitive speed figure in his life. Up against it.
- Dark Templar (8-1): Coasted on the front end last time at 1 1/16 miles, in his turf debut. However, if he wants that trip again, he’ll have to clear to the lead from post 12 and hold on for 3 ½ more furlongs. That’s a tall order.
- Douglas Road (20-1): A MTO entrant with similar form on both surfaces.
Imperative (outside) was up late to win the 2017 Charles Town Classic over Matt King Coal (#4) and War Story. Photo by The Racing Biz.
Race 5 — CARL HANFORD MEMORIAL STAKES
RACE PARTICULARS: Race 5 (3:28 pm EDT), $50,000 guaranteed purse for three-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles
THE FIELD (post position order)
- Colonel Juan (10-1): He’s tried to come from far back without success in each of his last five races, with declining speed figures in each one. A good exotics candidate, if nothing else.
- Warrioroftheroses (6-1): Hard-knocking veteran easily won an allowance race at Pimlico two starts back, with a solid speed figure. Has won five out of twelve at Delaware.
- Imperative (15-1): Beat a field that was tailor-made for him at Thistledown last out, but that was the only inspiring race he’s run in the past twelve months. Another one who will be compromised if the early pace is slow.
- General Downs (4-1): I don’t know what happened when he shipped to Churchill Downs last out, but he’s been working strongly since then, and his form over the winter at Laurel Park was excellent. He won the Native Dancer while running competitive figures in the John Campbell and Harrison Johnson. Returns to his native area here, and has to be respected.
- Douglas Road (10-1): Makes his second start off the layoff here, after showing speed and fading on the turf. He’s only raced twice on dirt, but both races were impressive, including a strong win at a mile at Laurel back in the fall. Will be on or near the pace.
- Just Whistle (6-1): Lightly-raced four-year-old closed well despite a tough trip in the Pimlico Special. He also closed to win at Gulfstream, which is unusual. Could be rounding into form at the right time.
- Dr Blarney (8-5): Massachusetts-bred star opened his year with two cupcake wins against his fellow New Englanders. He’s been good in open company, too, with four wins and a second from six starts at the track. Usual jockey Tammi Piermarini comes in for the mount, and will certainly be sending him.
- Reride (5-1): Midwestern shipper struggled last out against allowance foes at Arlington. Looks like the type who flattens out when in the midst of a move.
- #6 Just Whistle (6-1): Put your lips together and blow… lightly raced runner has seen graded foes last two without embarrassment
- #4 General Downs (4-1): Trainer Rubley looking to get this one back on track.
- #7 Dr Blarney (8-5): Has speedy sort lost a step – or just taking it easy against overmatched rivals last two? Gets a test here
- #2 Warrioroftheroses (6-1): Delaware lover ran a big one last time out at PIM
Golden Brown won the 2018 G3 Kent Stakes. Photo by Allison Janezic
Race 6 — G3 KENT STAKES
RACE PARTICULARS: Race 6 (4:03 pm EDT), Grade 3, $200,000 purse for three-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles (turf)
THE FIELD (post position order w/ program #)
2. Empire of War (3-1): Improved in his second race off the layoff, finishing second as the favorite in the Tale of the Cat. Interestingly, Joe Bravo rode him last time, but now jumps off in favor of a rival.
3. Award Winner (6-1): His stalk-and-grind running style earned him a victory against allowance company at Churchill last out. Corey Lanerie comes in for the mount.
4. Critical Data (15-1): Ran a big race against older horses first off the layoff, closing from behind to miss by a neck with a big speed figure. He’s been working well since that race.
5. Sharetheblame (10-1): Showed promise in the spring at Gulfstream Park, but then turned in a dull race in the English Channel when he was buried in traffic. It looks as if he’ll be dependent on a strong pace and a clean trip.
1. He’s No Lemon (8-1): Lost a tough photo at Belmont last out, while running a career-best race. He’ll be doing his best running at the end.
6. Surf and Turf (10-1): Lightly-raced $225,000 purchase makes his turf debut here. Trainer John Servis is just 3% with such horses. Hard to make a case.
7. Eons (5-1): He’s a winner of three races in a row, including the Stanton over this same turf course. He has yet to run a strong speed figure, though, and will find things tougher than in the past.
8. Solidify (4-1): Got outkicked by Empire of War in his turf debut last out. However, he ran a career-top figure while running for the first time in nine months, so I’m willing to give him a chance to improve.
9. Aspect (12-1): MTO entrant easily won his last two races against softer as the heavy favorite. He’s got the most consistent dirt form in the field.
1A. Shootin the Breeze (8-1): The other half of the Motion entry has hit the board in five out of six tries on turf, without a win to his name. Looks like the classic sucker-type horse.
- #4 Critical Data (15-1): Sneaky good North American debut flattered when winner repeated 7/5
- #1a Shootin the Breeze (8-1): Solid effort when third in the Jimmy Murphy
- #3 Award Winner (6-1): Bred to be a star
- #2 Empire of War (3-1): Stake winner at two might relish less-than-firm turf
If off the turf, play 9-5-3-6
Fashion Faux Pas was much the best in the Light Hearted Stakes. Photo by The Racing Biz.
Race 7 — GRADE 3 DELAWARE OAKS
RACE PARTICULARS: Race 7 (4:37 pm EDT), Grade 3, $300,000 guaranteed purse for 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles
THE FIELD (post position order w/ program #)
1. Gotta be Strong (8-1): Made a big, circling rally in the Alma North last out, but fell short. She’s won four out of seven against softer, but might find the going in her a bit too tough.
2. Ujjayi (12-1): Has run some decent races going seven furlongs, but there’s nothing in her PPs to suggest that she wants to go further.
3. Avalina (7-2): Easily won the Parx Oaks last out, earning a big figure after rating off the leader and pouncing. There’s lots of speed in the race, so if Carmouche keeps her just off the pace, she can take advantage of a possible meltdown and win going away.
1A. Our Super Freak (8-1): Showed speed in the Light Hearted, before getting blown out by Fashion Faux Pas. She’s competed against stakes horses in her last seven races, and has hit the board six times, but hasn’t won. I expect her to show speed and then give way.
4. Fashion Faux Pas (5-2): Ran a huge race in the Light Hearted, winning by 14 lengths while running a career-best speed figure. Has the ability to go to the lead or rate. Looks to be in career form.
5. Jaywalk (6-5): Brilliant two-year-old filly has struggled to find her good form at age 3, going 0-for-3 so far against best of her generation. She’ll encounter plenty of pace pressure, which will have an impact on her front-running style.
6. Afleet Destiny (15-1): She’s been outclassed against similar in her last few.
- #4 Fashion Faux Pas (5-2): Win here would validate Light Hearted score, stamp her a divisional player
- #3 Avalina (7-2): Parx Oaks couldn’t have been any easier; tries deeper waters here
- #1a Our Super Freak (8-1): Regular pilot McCarthy named aboard runner who’s placed in six stakes
- #5 Jaywalk (6-5): Blinks on in effort to recapture juvenile form; Bravo an interesting addition in the irons
Layla Noor. Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.
Race 8 — GRADE 3 ROBERT G. DICK MEMORIAL STAKES
RACE PARTICULARS: Race 8 (5:12 pm EDT), Grade 3, $200,000 guaranteed purse for fillies and mares three-years-old and up, 1 3/8 miles (turf)
THE FIELD (post position order w/ program #)
2. Steelin Magnolias (15-1): Hasn’t run a remotely competitive speed figure in her life.
3, Gaining (3-1): Battled on gamely in the Keertana at Churchill, before fading late and losing by ¾ of a length. Two starts back, she closed well to just miss in the Bewitch, making up 4 ½ lengths in the stretch. Shaun Bridgmohan comes in for the mount.
1. Pamina (10-1): Impressed in her seasonal debut at 1 mile and 70 yards, but flattened out in her lone try beyond 1 ¼ miles.
4. Gentle Ruler (4-1): Comes in off three straight wins, including two at 1 ½ miles. Both times, she had to close into ridiculously slow fractions. Chris Landeros, who rode her in Kentucky, is in for the ride.
5. Coachwhip (6-1): Flattened out going 12 furlongs in the Bewitch two starts back, but proved her class with a win over the synthetic in the Arlington Matron. Will probably be overbet because of that.
6. Vevina (8-1): In career-best form, with two big figures at marathon distances coming in here.
7. Layla Noor (12-1): Fell flat in her last two races, rating on or near the pace before giving way. She hasn’t won on the turf since breaking her maiden as 2-year-old at Saratoga.
1A. Thoeodra B (10-1): Relatively young filly has improved steadily throughout her career, and showed some strong closing punch when finishing second in the Big Dreyfus at Laurel last out. Has been working well on the turf. The distance is the only question.
8. Lemon Zip (8-1): She’s won three races in a row, all of them coming at 11 furlongs and up, but hasn’t run a competitive speed figure in any of them. Looks to be just a cut below these, but is a good candidate for the exotics.
9. Osare (5-1): Flattened out badly in her first start off the layoff last out, but did show some promise at age 3. Very much a mixed bag.
10. Gotham Gala (8-1): Obeah Stakes winner is listed as an MTO. She will likely be rerouted to the Delaware Handicap next week if this thing stays on the turf.
- #4 Gentle Ruler (4-1): Enters in top form off game Keertana score at CD
- #3 Gaining (3-1): Outfinished by #4 last time out but British-bred owns a G3 win in France; cross-entered at BEL
- #6 Vevina (8-1): Credible try vs. Ickymasho last time out
- #8 Lemon Zip (8-1): As good as she’s ever been right now
If on dirt, play… 10-7-5-4