The big event on this Saturday’s major stakes racing card takes us to the Delaware Handicap for three-year-old fillies and up at a total prize purse of $750,000.
Right now it appears that the field for this race will be a small one with six fillies listed as entered, but with five of the six entries rated by Horse Racing Nation, it should remain a competitive run over the entire 1¼ miles distance. After carefully breaking down this field, the following two fillies come together perfectly to form my top exacta pick for the race.
Delaware Handicap - Delaware Park
The Delaware Handicap is a Grade 1 stakes race open to three-year-old fillies and up. They will be competing for a total prize purse of $750,000 on the dirt track at Delaware over a distance of 1 ¼ miles.
The class of this six-horse field would be I’m A Chatterbox in my book. She should open as the morning line favorite given her ranking of 28th by HRN to go along with an 8.31 rating. This four-year-old Kentucky-bred filly is trained by Larry Jones and ridden by jockey Florent Geroux. She is coming off a big win in the non-graded Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park on June 11 over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. She has now finished in the money in nine of her last 10 events including a total of five first-place runs.
As a three-year-old, she finished third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill and second in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga before winning the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Philadelphia Park in late-September over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.Make sure you check her odds at GTBets once they are posted.
My second choice in Saturday’s Delaware Handicap would be trainer Todd Pletcher’s Mei Ling. With jockey Jose Ortiz getting the ride, she recently took second in the non-graded Rags to Riches Invitational at Belmont Park over an extended distance of 1 ½ miles. It was her fifth race this season as a five-year-old mare bred in Kentucky. She started this season with a second-place finish in the Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct before catching everyone’s eyes with a victory in the Heavenly Prize Invitational at that same track in early March.
Mei Ling was a late starter in terms of stakes horse racing picks with a series of solid finishes in both Allowance races and Maiden Special Weight races early in her career. She appears to be getting much better with age with a number of strong performances at a much higher class.
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Bonus Pick: Indiana Derby – Indiana Grand Racing & Casino
The 2016 Indiana Derby is another big race on this Saturday’s card. This Grade 2 stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbreds will be contested on the dirt track at Indiana Grand over a distance of 1 1/16 miles. The total prize purse for this year’s event is $500,000.
The field for Saturday’s race is shaping up to be a good one with 13 horses listed as probable. There are a couple of strong contenders that made some noise during the Kentucky Derby prep race schedule earlier this year, but the one that stands out from all the rest in my eyes is trainer Bob Baffert’s Cupid. This three-year-old Kentucky-bred colt made an early splash this season by winning the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 19 over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.
A disappointing 10th-place finish in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby kept Cupid out of the Triple Crown racing series, but he still comes into this race with a lofty HRN ranking of 50.
The next best three-year-old in this race is Cherry Wine with an HRN ranking of 78th to go along with a solid 7.77 rating. Trained by Dale Romans, the last time we saw this Kentucky-bred colt was in the Belmont Stakes where he finished seventh. His biggest claim to fame is a second-place run in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico behind Exaggerator and ahead of favorite Nyquist.
His past experience in those Triple Crown events probably makes him the strongest horse in this field overall, but I still like him as a second choice to Cupid at this shorter 1 1/16 miles distance.
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