'Princess' Looks Tough in Delaware Handicap

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman")

There’s plenty of major racing action to look forward to this Saturday, but there’s no question that—from a sporting perspective—the biggest race of the day is the $750,000 Delaware Handicap (gr. I) at Delaware Park, a ten-furlong race that has become a major early-summer goal for the best fillies and mares in the country.

On the surface, this year’s Delaware Handicap does not appear to be a very good betting race. The presence of four-time grade I winner Princess of Sylmar (fresh off a head defeat in the grade I Ogden Phipps and expected to be an odds-on favorite here) has resulted in just five other horses entering the race, none of them grade I winners. Given the enormous advantage that Princess of Sylmar has on paper, anything less than a victory would be an upset of epic magnitude. Not only has Princess of Sylmar previously won a grade I race at this distance—while none of her rivals have ever run farther than nine furlongs—her ability to adapt to different pace scenarios should help her work out a great trip.

However, while Princess of Sylmar looks extremely difficult to beat, some of the other well-regarded contenders may have holes in their armor, offering value to handicappers that look past the obvious in exactas and trifectas. For example, take 3-1 shot Molly Morgan. Last time out, she romped to a four-length victory in the nine-furlong Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs, easily trouncing grade I winner On Fire Baby and the talented Fiftyshadesofhay. For her effort, she received a career-best Beyer speed figure of 97.

Based off that performance, Molly Morgan seems like a very logical candidate to round out the exacta behind Princess of Sylmar. But there are a few things that worry me. First off, Molly Morgan got an absolute dream trip in the Fleur de Lis, saving ground all the way and bursting through an opening on the rail as the field turned for home. In addition, her domination of the race was aided by the fact that On Fire Baby completely failed to fire (she finished fifth by 14 ¼ lengths), and Fiftyshadesofhay could only manage a weak third, well below her usual level of performance. Furthermore, Molly Morgan—who had already run twenty times prior to the Fleur de Lis—had never previously recorded a Beyer figure higher than 89. With this in mind, I would be surprised if Molly Morgan replicates her Fleur de Lis performance this Saturday.

Another contender that may prove to be an underlay is Flashy American, who is 7-2 on the morning line. She is an admirable mare, and one that I would love to own, but she has shown time and time again to be more of a listed stakes/grade III competitor than a grade I/grade II filly, and typically finds a few fillies better than she every time she steps up in class. Last time out, she finished second to Molly Morgan in the Fleur de Lis, and while she could certainly close that gap today, it’s difficult to envision her finishing much better than third in this spot.

So if I don’t like Molly Morgan and Flashy American to round out the exacta, who do I like? The mare I’m looking at is the 10-1 shot Belle Gallantey. After being nothing more than a claiming/allowance horse for the first thirty-six starts of her career, Belle Gallantey was claimed by Rudy Rodriguez in December 2013, and the result of that claim has been astonishing. In her first start for Rodriguez, Belle Gallantey won an allowance race by 6 ½ lengths, then won two more allowance races in equally impressive fashion. Off of these performances, Belle Gallantey was entered in the Ogden Phipps (gr. I) at Belmont Park against Princess of Sylmar, Close Hatches, and Beholder—considered to be the best three fillies in the country at this time. While Belle Gallantey could only manage a fifth-place finish that day, she was by no means disgraced, being beaten just 1 ¾ lengths despite encountering some traffic in the homestretch. Off of this performance, Belle Gallantey must be considered a prime contender for the exotics, and—who knows? Should Princess of Sylmar fail to unleash her best performance, Belle Gallantey may very well be capable of pulling off an upset at a respectable price.

So, I’ll take Princess of Sylmar on top of a trifecta with Belle Gallantey in second and Flashy American and Molly Morgan in third. I may also try an exacta with Belle Gallantey on top of Princess of Sylmar, just in case Belle Gallantey takes another step forward on Saturday.

Who do you like this weekend?

31 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Brontexx

This critique isnt meant to be negative, although anyone that reads it could perceive it as such, but picking favorites in stakes races is a tough way to win.

At the lower levels like MSW and NX1 it is much much easier because the best trainers make their living by advancing their trainees thru the preliminary levels yearly over and over some over decades of time.Once you get to the big leagues(stakes) theres no intent but to win now, although nothing in this game is 100 percent.I am positive it is easier for a post time favorite from a winning barn to win a NX1 race than even an ungraded stakes.If the favorite in question has a winning streak of over 3 races then I would play them because they are the exceptions and not the norm,but in most cases I wouldnt play favorites unless I used  the ALL button in vertical exotics and bet enough on each of the others that I would get a better ROI from the winng favorite in the exotic pools then I would in the win pool.

10 Jul 2014 6:49 PM
Brontexx

Just looked at the paper yes PS looks much the best and theres not that much difference in recency days since last race since this stat has more impact for mares than horses,but if I had to pick a long shot 10-1 morning line and to cover my bets just in case the Princess comes in 2nd it would be Gramay Noir just won a race at the track dropping 8 pounds from that race although stretching out another furlong but gets 7 pounds from the Princess.

Her trainer Marty Wolfson does very well shipping and winning graded stakes at major tracks.That would be my exacta 6-4 and 4-6 and like I wrote she should get a piece using her closing style if the Princess has an off day.

10 Jul 2014 7:05 PM
Brontexx

Heres what I wrote Her trainer Marty Wolfson does very well shipping and winning graded stakes at major tracks.

Heres what I meant to write Marty Wolfson does very well shipping and collecting a check at major tracks and big races.He wins some of these at very good odds because he is not well known so the trainers well known nationally go off at lower odds tham his trainees do more often.

10 Jul 2014 8:31 PM
-Keelerman

Brontexx;

Great thoughts! Coincidentally, I have been re-reading Andrew Beyer's book "The Winning Horseplayer," in which he discusses exactly what you outlined above -- using "all" in the exotics to try and get a better ROI on the favorite than a win bet would provide.

I almost included a paragraph about Gamay Noir in my blog post, and assuming she stays a solid price, I may actually lean toward using her in the bottom of the exotics rather than Flashy American. I do like that Gamay Noir has won at Delaware before, and your Marty Wolfson angle is definitely appealing. Good luck!

10 Jul 2014 10:44 PM
Pedigree Ann

Hi guys. It's the Newmarket July meeting at the moment, with group races plus high-quality handicaps and maiden races to boot. Yesterday, Ivawood made it two for two in the July S for juveniles. He is by freshman sire Zebedee, a son of Invincible Spirit. In the steady rain, the venerable Cavalryman (an 8yo horse, not gelding) took the race by the scruff of the neck and used his superior stamina to go gate to wire in the 12f Princess of Wales's S (G2). Normally, he runs in races around 2 minles. The 13f G3 race for 3yos was won by the winner of the Queen's Vase (at 2 miles) at Royal Ascot, name of Hartnell; I will claim he was named for The First Doctor Who, even if he wasn't. He is pointing for the St. Leger.

Today is the G2 renamed Cherry Hinton for the juvenile girls and the G1 Falmouth for fillies and mares; tomorrow they run the big one of the meeting, the July Cup (G1) at 5f for 3&up and one of the big traditional open handicaps, the Bunbury Cup at 7f.

US racing? I just want the Princess to keep demonstrating what a fluke race the BC Distaff was.

11 Jul 2014 8:01 AM
-Keelerman

Pedigree Ann;

I'm really looking forward to the July Cup tomorrow -- I've got my fingers crossed that Undrafted will give a good account of himself! Do you think he has a legitimate chance to win?

11 Jul 2014 4:49 PM
Pedigree Ann

Actually, Keelerman, I've never seen a race run by Undrafted so I'm not a good judge. One wouldn't think that he had the class to deal with this lot, because US horses sprint on turf usually because they couldn't do anything else. Couldn't sprint or route on dirt, couldn't route on turf, that leaves..., There is a reason the best level of turf sprints in the US is G3. (The G1 for the BC is bogus, IMHO.) But Due Diligence (boy, names are recycling faster and faster) surprised me at Ascot, so...,

His record says he has good mile form, which is a plus in my book, because the ground may have dried some from yesterday but it will still be a bit testing and the course is slightly uphill (with undulations). He has the #1 draw, along the standside rail, which could also be good, depending on which part of the track is firmest on the day. Yesterday, standside was very good.

12 Jul 2014 5:30 AM
Secreteriat

$20 TRI 6 W 1-2 W 1-2

$10 Exacta 1-6

Using All works in Tri's and Supers because jocks tend to pull up their horses if they feel they can't get a placing and longshots finish in the money. In the meantime some trainers know their horse can't win but is good for 2nd and third. Making money is the connections objective and mine is to identify those intentions. Good Luck

12 Jul 2014 9:14 AM
-Keelerman

Pedigree Ann;

Thanks for your thoughts! I just watched the July Cup, and I thought Undrafted gave a pretty good account of himself. Entering the final few hundred yards, I thought he had a chance to go on and win the race, but a few others had a bit more kick coming down to the finish. Still, he wasn't beaten much while coming home fourth, and I think he ran well enough to warrant another try at a major European sprint sometime in the future. If his connections are willing to forgo a trip to the Breeders' Cup, the QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes could prove an admirable goal. It certainly would be exciting!

12 Jul 2014 11:31 AM
Brontexx

Think again if you believed the ole wives tale that trainers are not good handicappers because the best ones finish 1st 2nd and 3rd more than 50% of the time.

When you follow trainers you watch some races where the trainers horse has an inside position in a route race and his figures arent competetive in this group because of the speed etc of the best,they just save ground and get a piece and get a good workout to point for a race they can win down the road.I think this works better on the turf because in American racing very few races are won by the frontrunner as opposed to American dirt racing where you can save all the ground you want but if you are too far behind the hard surface helps the early runners and pressers maintain their advantage.

12 Jul 2014 12:36 PM
Brontexx

Bloggers how ever many of you actually exist or are reading the blog,just looked at the odds Im not betting the race the only bet that will pay well if the Princess wins is if the 5 comes in 2nd.GL on those of you that are betting.My paper pick is 6-4 4-6,but now I will paper pick the 6-45-45 tri.GL

12 Jul 2014 5:06 PM
Secreteriat

Belle Gallantey lulls them to sleep!

Nice Score.

12 Jul 2014 5:59 PM
Brontexx

Secreteriat good job here are your picks

$20 TRI 6 W 1-2 W 1-2

$10 Exacta 1-6

Did you get the tri also you have the right numbers

12 Jul 2014 7:42 PM
Pedigree Ann

Pace makes the race. It's one of the old saws of racing wisdom. Horses like the Princess, who wants to close from behind, are especially vulnerable to a slow early pace.

13 Jul 2014 7:02 AM
Secreteriat

Thank you Brontexx,

I did not hit the TRI

The exacta was my backup bet and it worked well.

13 Jul 2014 9:45 AM
Brontexx

Keelerman my original notion was correct when I said that its a tough road picking the favorite in stakes competition as opposed to the lower classes of races.

If you look at the paper in the same race and the trainers in the money record in graded stakes as opposed to their 2014 in the money record every single trainer has a lower in the money percentage in graded stakes.

Secreteriat had the right race scenario and he took the 2nd choice in the field and won the bet.These horses that make it to these graded stakes are all very talented and unless they make it here lightly raced they can change running style slightly and take what is given to them easily thats what Belle Gallentey and her connections did and they easily took a Gr1.The Princess is not a dominant mare and she has only won three races in a row once in her career and she won the 4th race also but the 5th in that form cycle was a Breeders Cup race which can be a whole lot tougher because the runners are stakes horses that have gone thru qualifying races to even run.

13 Jul 2014 11:09 AM
Brontexx

My bad the Princess is still considered a Filly at 4 and not a mare,male colts become horses at 4 is the reason I made that mistake.

13 Jul 2014 11:12 AM
Brontexx

If I ever wrote a book about my style of horse play one possible title "In The Money"

13 Jul 2014 11:16 AM
Brontexx

The Princess was dominant as a 3yo but when racing against older has only won an ungraded stake thus far.If I was a buyer I would look at theses details and not just go by the selling point she won so and so grade 1s,yes she did but as a 3yo not and against older.

13 Jul 2014 11:30 AM
-Keelerman

Secreteriat;

Great job handicapping the Delaware Handicap! Congratulations!

13 Jul 2014 1:46 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman you join Secreteriat in the winners circle here are your final picks

So, I’ll take Princess of Sylmar on top of a trifecta with Belle Gallantey in second and Flashy American and Molly Morgan in third. I may also try an exacta with Belle Gallantey on top of Princess of Sylmar, just in case Belle Gallantey takes another step forward on Saturday.

13 Jul 2014 2:28 PM
-Keelerman

Thanks, Brontexx! It was a nice day in general for Unlocking Winners -- TimeformUS called Hangover Kid as the winner of the Bowling Green at just under 5-1, and Ed DeRosa hit the all-stakes pick four on Saturday at Arlington!

16 Jul 2014 11:30 AM
-Keelerman

A couple of potential Haskell starters were on the work tab this morning, flashing drastically different amounts of speed. At Gulfstream Park, Social Inclusion breezed a half-mile in a blazing :45.65 seconds, which was the bullet of the morning by nearly seven-tenths of a second. Meanwhile, at Del Mar, Bayern worked five furlongs in a much more moderate 1:02.80 seconds, the ninth-fastest of sixteen morning works at that distance, and :02 2/5 seconds slower than the bullet time.

16 Jul 2014 11:36 AM
-Keelerman

I should also point out that Bayern's slow five-furlong work may have been planned, since he breezed a mile in a stiff 1:37.80 just six days ago. I would expect that Bayern will have one more work before the Haskell -- perhaps a slightly sharper five-furlong breeze, or maybe a moderate half-mile.

16 Jul 2014 11:39 AM
Brontexx

I think the humans that are the caretakers of Bayern want him to ration his speed.He crushed the field in his last where I didnt like Social Inclusion because it was a sprint or a short race,he is a distance horse that needs to settle himself internally and he is more of a distance horse than Bayern IMO.I mean distance in 2014 not in the 1970s.The race is at 9 panels and Bayern should switch places on the oddsboard this time with Social Inclusion.

16 Jul 2014 12:32 PM
Brontexx

If SI is calm he can beat Bayern at 9 panels eventhough he was crushed by Bayern in the last at a shorter distance,inotherwords IMO SI has more speed at a distance as opposed to Bayern who could win the Haskell as that surface has been kind to colts such as Verazano.

16 Jul 2014 12:35 PM
Brontexx

I will go back to my first sentence on this blog as the Haskell is a Grade one as far as I remember:

This critique isnt meant to be negative, although anyone that reads it could perceive it as such, but picking favorites in stakes races is a tough way to win.

Since we live in the information age Keelerman and you can find out who is probable or definitely running in the race do you have your thumbnail sketch in your mind of your pick without the race day information?

16 Jul 2014 6:12 PM
-Keelerman

Brontexx;

Thanks for your thoughts on the Haskell! It looks like a field of eight or nine might turn up for the race, led by Untapable, Social Inclusion, Bayern, Wildcat Red, Albano, and Irish You Well. My gut feeling is to try and beat Untapable, since she's likely to encounter a much faster early pace than she's used to, and if she has to work harder early to keep up, a major upset could be a possibility.

Like you, I'm leaning toward siding with Social Inclusion over Bayern in the Haskell, for the same reasons you outlined. But the presence of Wildcat Red, in addition to Bayern, could make relaxing on or near the lead a bit of a challenge for Social Inclusion. I actually like the chances of Wildcat Red pretty well, but post position will have a major impact on my handicapping. I would like to see Wildcat Red draw inside of Social Inclusion and Bayern, beat them both to the lead, and try to steal the race while saving ground all the way around. Who is your early selection?

16 Jul 2014 6:46 PM
Brontexx

My early selection is Albano the same colt I picked to win his last on the same surface when Uncle Sigh was scratched and he trounced Ring Weekend who incidently runs opening day at Saratoga on the Turf.

Thats just my thumbnail sketch by the time the race is on the clock is when I'll actually decide what to do regarding this race,its not like I have committed a ton of time in the preps leading up to this race like the KD.Then again its 3yos so apart from a couple its the usual suspects.

BTW is this a part time gig for you you seem to appear and disappear magically and all your blog characters have vanished as if they quit this pastime,went broke or been forced into the nuthouse ala Kentucky Vet.

16 Jul 2014 9:43 PM
-Keelerman

Brontexx;

It has been a bit slow around here, hasn't it? :) It looks like we're the only ones here right now. But I'm sure things will pick up again after Saratoga opens.

I'll definitely be taking a close look at Albano in the Haskell. I think there's a good chance that he'll be overlooked in the wagering thanks to the presence of Untapable, Social Inclusion, and Bayern. Actually, I think the presence of Untapable alone could make all of the other entrants overlays, since I think Untapable will receive more money in the win pool than she deserves. If this is indeed the case, the Haskell could prove an exceptional betting race if Untapable fails to fire her best shot against the colts.

16 Jul 2014 10:19 PM
-Keelerman

Opening day at Del Mar has arrived! cs.bloodhorse.com/.../opening-day-at-del-mar.aspx

17 Jul 2014 11:11 AM

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