Idiomatic prevails in Delaware Handicap thriller

With more than a quarter-mile to go in Saturday’s 86th running of the Grade 2, $500,000 Delaware Handicap, Idiomatic swooped up to even terms with long-term leader Classy Edition, those two eyeball-to-eyeball while clear of the rest.

The margin between them never got bigger, while that between them and the rest of the field only grew.

In a race that was reminiscent of the legendary 2011 showdown between Blind Luck and Havre de Grace, Idiomatic and Classy Edition fought it out to the wire, with Idiomatic ultimately prevailing by a head, with Classy Edition 9 ¼ lengths clear of show horse Morning Matcha.

But it didn’t start out well at all for Idiomatic. Idiomatic, a Juddmonte Farm homebred trained by Brad Cox, stumbled badly leaving the gate and found herself in last, a position to which she was not at all accustomed. She arrived off a front-running score in the Grade 3 Shawnee at Churchill Downs and hadn’t been worse than second at the opening call in her last six starts.

“The worst you can do [after a bad break] is rush up the horse and try to make it happen rather than letting it happen,” said winning rider Florent Geroux. “I just let the race develop in front of me, cut the corner on the first turn, slowly getting my filly into a nice rhythm.”

Up top, Classy Edition cleared the field nearing the first turn and established the front with an opening half-mile in 48.40 seconds, with 30-1 outsider Battle Bling – last year’s distant runner-up behind runaway winner Miss Leslie – applying the closest pressure. By then, though, Geroux and Idiomatic had managed to pick their way into contention, sitting third and just three lengths off it.


With about five-eighths to go, Idiomatic began to put it in gear. Inside the three-eighths, she was on even terms with Classy Edition, with Kendrick Carmouche in the irons.

“I thought I had him measured very easily turning for home,” Geroux said. “My filly started getting a little distracted, flopping her ears back and forth, slowing down on me.”

Idiomatic (#3) prevailed in a thriller in the Delaware Handicap. Photo by Allison Janezic.

And Classy Edition dug in. Each time it seemed Idiomatic would begin to inch away, Classy Edition would find just a bit more.

“His filly gave us a pretty good run for our money,” Geroux admitted.

In the end, it was Idiomatic to win, getting the 1 3/16-mile distance on a fast main track in 1:56.41. It was the first time the Delaware Handicap, traditionally run at 1 ¼ miles, had ever been run at the distance.        

Idiomatic, off at 2-5, returned $2.80 to win. With Classy Edition the 5-2 second choice, the exacta returned just $3.40 for a one-dollar wager.

Idiomatic, a four-year-old daughter of Curlin, now has six wins from nine starts to go with earnings just shy of $775,000. The DelCap provided her second graded stakes win – and, her connections hope, a springboard to yet bigger things.

“She has been training tremendously in the morning and we have very high hopes for her,” said winning rider Florent Geroux.  “We are hoping, if she stays healthy and keeps on progressing, hopefully, she will be a player in the Distaff division in November.”

NOTES In the $100,000 Dashing Beauty Stakes, the Brett Brinkman-trained Alva Starr was able to establish the front, control the proceedings, and draw away to a sharp 6 ¾-length score under jockey Mychel Sanchez. Running time for six furlongs on the main track was 1:09.34… In the $150,000 Battery Park, Grade 1 winner Doppelganger and jockey Jevian Toledo pressed the pace of Ridin With Biden before overhauling that one in the lane en route to a 2 1/4-length score in 1:44.36 for 1 1/16 miles. Doppelganger is trained by Brittany Russell… Handle on the 10-race program was just over $3.08 million. That figure was not helped by the Battery Park, which at entry time looked like a terrific eight-horse contest, including several graded winners, but scratched down to just three…