Defending champion Elate takes on eight fillies and mares in Saturday’s $750,000 Delaware Handicap (G2) including Blue Prize who is looking to turn the tables after the two battled last out in the Fleur De Lis Handicap (G2).
The Bill Mott trained Elate came out on top in the Fleur De Lis at Churchill Downs by 1 ½ lengths as the 4-5 betting favorite and is the 7-5 morning line favorite as she seeks to become the seventh to win two editions of the Del Cap. The last to do it was Royal Delta, who won in 2012 and 2013. Mott trained Royal Delta.
Elate will break from the seven post as the highweight at 122 pounds with regular jockey Jose Ortiz in to ride.
Mott was happy with her effort in her last outing.
“She finished well, made the lead inside the eighth pole and was drawing away at the end. It was a very useful race and it seemed like the nine furlongs seemed to suit her much better than the previous two-times at a mile and a sixteenth,” Mott said.
Blue Prize had a strong 2018 campaign which included four wins highlighted by her victory in the Spinster (G1) at Keeneland last October. She has come up short in her two starts this year, a third in the La Troien followed by her second in the Fleur De Lis.
Joe Bravo will be ride the mare, the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. She will break from the six post and carry 120 pounds, getting a two-pound weight break from her main rival.
“She is doing very well,” said trainer Ignacio Correas IV. “We have been planning on running her in the Delaware Handicap since the beginning of the year. She is tough. She does not mind travelling, she loves to race, she is very adaptable and I think she is going to love the mile and a quarter.”
Let’s head out to Delaware Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Delaware Park Race 8 The Delaware Handicap (G2) Post time 5:25 ET
6 Blue Prize 7-2
7 Elate 7-5
3 Escape Clause 5-1
2 Gotham Gala 8-1
The mare needs to make up 1 ½ lengths to turn the tables on Elate here and looks capable of doing just that. Last out the mare fought the jock early and going around the first turn, tracked the pace, battled on in the stretch and could not match strides with her rival late. Two back she ran third in the La Troien (G1) at Churchill Downs in her first start off a six-month layoff. She reeled off three in a row last year including the Spinster (G1) and I made her my top pick in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at 8-1 but she came up 1 ½ length short of the top spot in a fourth-place finish. Her one trip at 1 ¼ miles came in a Group 1 in Chile back in ’16. She should get a good tracking trip behind that could be a solid pace. She gets a two pound shift in the weights and reunites with Bravo who was aboard her for her win in the Spinster.
The Bill Mott trainee is the defending champ of this race, winning by 3 ¼ lengths last year as the short price favorite. She wo off an 8 ½ month layoff, her first start since running fourth in the ’17 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She comes into this year’s edition off a sharp win in the Fleur De Lis ‘Cap (G2) at Churchill Downs at nine furlongs. She came up short in her first two starts this year, beaten by Midnight Bisou in both of those outings. The extra ground here will suit her as she has won twice at the distance. She owns the top late pace numbers and is going to get some pace to run at. The main knock is going to be her short price, which may drift downward off her 7-5 morning line.
This mare has won 20 of 32 career starts with many of those wins coming at minor tracks like Century and Assiniboia. She made the change to the big time going to turf, winning a stake at Del Mar thanks to a disqualification and also winning the La Canada (G3) on the main track at Santa Anita. She gave Midnight Bisou all she could handle in the Apple Blossom ‘Cap (G1) at Oaklawn Park, coming up just a nose short, then regressed last out in a fourth-place finish in the Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park. She has talent but the distance is a question mark.
WIN: Blue Price to win at 3-1 or better.
EXACTA: 6,7 / 2,3,6,7
TRIFECTA: 6,7 / 2,3,6,7 / 1,2,3,6,7