DEL: Terrific group to contest Robert G. Dick Memorial

Delaware Park
Racing in the Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park. Photo by Allison Janezic.

Sunday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park is about as good a Grade 3 as you’re likely to find.

The recipe: take one multiple Grade 1 winner. Add in four Grade or Group 3 winners. Sprinkle with a couple of horses that appear likely to win graded stakes soon enough. Stir, and serve as the eighth race on a 10-race program.

War Like Goddess, a three-time Grade 1 winner, is the 3-1 morning line favorite and likely to get bet down from there. Her gaudy resume includes 11 wins, three in Grade 1 company, from 19 starts and earnings of more than $2.6 million. She arrives at the Dick off a third-place finish in the Grade 1 New York over Belmont weekend that was her season debut.

Saratoga’s Grade 2 Glens Falls is scheduled for August 1, and last year, when she won that contest, she sat out from the New York until the Glens Falls. Of course, last year she also had a race prior to the New York, the Grade 3 Bewitch at Keeneland; this year she suffered a cut reportedly and did not make it to the Bewitch.

Trained by Bill Mott for Geroge Krikorian, War Like Goddess Junior Alvarado In the irons.

For all that, this is no easy spot.

Gary Broad’s Vergara should benefit with a cutback in distance when she faces eight rivals in the mile and three eighths Dick.

This year, the 5-year-old daughter of Noble Mission has run third in a pair of mile-and-a-half turf stakes. On April 26, the Kentucky-bred trained by H. Graham Motion was the beaten favorite in the Grade III Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland and in her most recent she lost the $250,000 Keertana Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 25. Her two wins the last two seasons have been at the distance of a mile and five sixteenths at Kentucky Downs. She has a career record of four wins, two seconds and six thirds from 17 starts with earnings of $1,201,388.

“She is doing super,” Motion said. “After her last race, we kind of focused on this race. I like the fact this race is a mile and three eighths instead of a mile and a half. I have been questioning a little bit if she wants to go a mile and a half because her wins at Kentucky Downs have been a little shorter than that, and that is why I feel good this race falls right into her wheelhouse.”

Motion has won the Robert G. Dick nine times since the race was inaugurated in 1997. Last year, he won the race with Sopran Basilea. He also won the race with Guilty Twelve in 2017, Real Smart in 2016, Caprice in 2009, Rosinka in 2007, Alternate in 2004 and 2003, New Economy in 2002 and Bursting Forth in 1999.

“I think we are bringing a nice one, so it will be fun to take a run at another win in this race,” Motion said. “We are having a nice run with the race, and we feel good about Vergara chances.” 

Don Alberto Stable’s Alpha Bella will be stretching back out after running second in the mile and a sixteenth $104,000 Miss Liberty over the Monmouth Park turf course on May 26. In her only other outing this year, the 4-year-old daughter of Justify won the mile and a half Grade III La Prevoyante at Gulfstream Park on January 27. Last year, the Kentucky-bred trained by Todd Pletcher was third in the Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs and third in the Tropical Park Oaks at Gulfstream Park. She has a career record of three wins, four seconds and and two thirds from 14 starts with earnings of $368,115.

“She has been a very consistent filly and she likes the distance,” trainer Todd Pletcher.

Both are graded winners, as are Italian Group 3 winner Atomic Blonde (4-1) and Chop Chop (9-2).