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NTRA Summer Racing on ESPN2 this Sunday

July 9, 2008     E-mail this page to a friend!

Live coverage of the Delaware Handicap, a Grade II, $1,000,000 test for fillies and mares on the main track at Delaware Park, will be the highlight on this week’s “NTRA Summer Racing” program on ESPN2, Sunday, July 13, at 4:00 p.m. Mountain Time. Also live on the telecast will be Delaware’s Grade III, $300,000 Barbaro Stakes for three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, also on the main track. The Delaware Handicap winner will receive an automatic starting berth in the $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic on October 24 at Santa Anita.

Delaware Handicap

The defending champion, Team Valor Stable’s Unbridled Belle tops a field of eleven entered in the 71st renewal of the $1 million Grade II Delaware Handicap this Sunday. For the first time, the mile and a quarter classic for fillies and mares has been designated as a “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race with the winner automatically qualifying for the Ladies’ Classic on October 24.

Last year, Unbridled Belle won the Delaware Handicap by 7 lengths, which was the largest margin of victory since the distance was extended to a mile and a quarter in 1951. The 5-year-old daughter of Broken Vow followed by running second in the Grade I Personal Ensign at Saratoga, winning the Grade I Beldame at Belmont and then closing her 2007 campaign with by running fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. In her only outing this year, the Kentucky-bred trained by Todd Pletcher won the mile and an eighth $150,000 Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park on June 14. Her career record is six wins, three seconds and a third from 15 starts with earnings of $1,359,340.

Unbridled Belle, who will be ridden by the current leading Delaware Park jockey Ramon Dominguez, will be attempting to become the fifth repeat winner and the sixth double winner of the Delaware Handicap. The repeat winners of the mile and a quarter classic for fillies and mares are Endine (1958 and 1959), Obeah (1969 and 1970), Blessing Angelica (1971 and 1972) and Nastique (1988 and 1989). Susan’s Girl won the race in 1973 and 1975.

The second choice is Rancho San Miguel, Jerry Hollendorfer, and George Todaro’s Hystericalady. In her last race, the 5-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor notched a 7-length score in the mile and an eighth $300,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 14.

“You never really expect to win a race by that much,” said her trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “But she really gets a hold of Churchill Downs main track, so we were expecting a solid performance from her.” The Kentucky-bred also won the mile and a sixteenth $175,000 Grade III Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park this year. Last year, she compiled a record of three wins, three seconds and a third from eight starts including victories in the Grade I Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs, the Grade II Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park, and running second, beaten only a neck to Ginger Punch, in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Monmouth Park. Her career record is nine wins, three seconds, and two thirds from 19 starts with earnings of $1,510,566.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is not overly concerned about shipping across the country or in his mare getting the mile and a quarter.

“When you ship, there is always a concern because lots of things could happen,” said Hollendorfer. “But she ships well and she has done this before many times, so I am not really worried about that. She has never been a mile and a quarter, so you never know, but I am confident she can get the distance.”

The third choice is Stronach Stables’ Spring Waltz. The 5-year-old daughter of Silver Charm, winner of her last four in a row, has not raced since capturing the mile and an eighth $200,000 Grade II Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream Park on March 9. The Kentucky-bred trained by Robert Frankel has a career record of six wins and three seconds from nine starts with earnings of $317,117.

Also entered are Buy the Barrel, Santa Teresita, Moon Catcher, All Smiles, Over Under, Lemon Drop Mom, Copper State, and Kathleens Reel.

Barbaro Stakes

The horse to beat in the Barbaro Stakes is the horse who won Pimlico’s Barbaro Stakes on May 17. That would be Roman Emperor, who captured the first leg of what would be a unique Barbaro-Barbaro double by defeating no less than Da’ Tara at Pimlico. Da’ Tara stepped up from that effort behind Roman Emperor to upset the field in the June 7 Belmont Stakes. Others entered in the race are Z Humor, Cherokee Artist, Goldsville, Magical Forest and Ready Set.