Jonathan Thomas hoping for Delight-ful Selima

After watching horses such as Sharing and Consumer Spending use the race as a path to the Breeders’ Cup and become graded-stakes winners, trainer Jonathan Thomas is hoping the same will prove true for either or both of Delight and Born Dapper in Saturday’s $150,000 Selima at Laurel Park.

The 93rd running of the Selima for 2-year-old fillies and 96th renewal of the $150,000 Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds, both scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the grass, co-headline a 10-race program featuring five stakes worth $575,000 on opening weekend of the calendar year-ending fall meet.

Sharing used a popular victory in the 2019 Selima as a springboard to a 13-1 upset of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) that fall. Two years later Consumer Spending won the Selima prior to a sixth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, where she was beaten less than two lengths, before going on to win two stakes this year including the Wonder Again (G2).

“There’s no doubt that this race is a good stepping stone,” said Thomas, who trains both Delight and Born Dapper for Augustin Stable. “If you happen to be competitive in this race, the timing to the Breeders’ Cup is very, very good. And when it’s good, Laurel’s turf course is as good as anywhere.”

Delight, by Mendelssohn, has raced three times having run third in each of her first two tries starting with a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight April 29 at Keeneland. She was given plenty of time before being stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for her Aug. 7 return at Saratoga, and was freshened again exiting a 2 ¼-length triumph Aug. 27 at Delaware Park.

“She’s shown us that she’s got some above average ability,” Thomas said. “I really like the timing from that maiden race to the Selima. We kind of went into that maiden with the thought process that if she were able to run well that it would set her up really well for a race like the Selima. Fortunately, she took care of business and she seems to have come out of it well.”

Delight found herself trailing all but one horse in the early stages of her debut before making a late run behind Love Reigns, who would go on to be fourth in the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot and win the Aug. 21 Bolton Landing at Saratoga. Unhurried but closer to the front in her second start, Delight pressed the pace last out until taking over at the top of the stretch and drawing away, sent away in both races as a favorite.

“When we ran her at Keeneland we ran her knowing that it was going to be too short for her. But, she was doing well and we thought we might as well go ahead and get her started. We were happy with her that day. She ran into a superstar,” Thomas said. “Then we thought she made a really good account of herself at Saratoga off a big break. We had a really wide trip all the way around there and we thought it was a really good effort.”

Delight is the 3-1 morning line favorite and will have Jevian Toledo in the irons as she leaves from the 10-hole.

Thomas also entered Born Dapper, a homebred daughter of Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Union Rags that also exits a maiden special weight victory, hers coming by one length going a mile Aug. 13 at Monmouth Park. She was second in debut May 28 on the all-weather surface at Woodbine prior to running third over its turf course July 2, and was also involved in a 1 1/16-mile race July 24 at Saratoga that was ultimately declared a no contest following a tractor malfunction.

“She’s just been a real solid filly,” Thomas said. “She’s shown in her three starts and she’s bred and has the look of a filly that will appreciate the stretch out. They both have been kind of preparing for this race together and, honestly, Born Dapper has been training every bit as good as Delight.

“She’s been dead honest about everything,” he added. “She’s a little slower on numbers than Delight but as far as how she’s doing, and that’s as important with these 2-year-olds as anything, she really seems to be thriving right now.”

Born Dapper, with no rider named, is 9-2 on the morning line.