Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Stanton, Del., November 1, 2011 — A strong contingent of local horses seeking national glory in the Breeders’ Cup Championships highlights Closing Day for the 74th season of live racing at Delaware Park this Saturday.

The 11-race live racing program is set to get underway with a special 11:45 a.m. post time for the first race. The 12-race Breeders’ Cup program, simulcast from Churchill Downs, will begin with a first race post time of 12:05 p.m. On Friday, the Breeders’ Cup Ladies card will have a first race post time of 2:00 p.m.

Havre de Grace, Union Rags and Grace Hall will be seeking to carry on the tradition, set forth by Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Barbaro, Hard Spun, Eight Belles and Animal Kingdom, of locally-based horses taking national success to the next level.

A victory in the Classic on November 5 by Havre de Grace would all but assure the filly, owned by Wilmington, Delaware, native Richard Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, Horse of the Year honors. The 4-year-old daughter of Saint Liam conditioned by J. Larry Jones would become the first local horse to achieve that feat since the legendary Spectacular Bid took the honors in 1980. She would also become the first locally-based filly or mare to ever win the award, and only the 10th in the history of the sport, following in the footsteps of the most recent overall champions, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.

A victory in the Juvenile by Union Rags would all but assure the colt, owned by Chester County native Phyllis Wyeth, the 2-year-old championship honors and peg him as the early Kentucky Derby favorite. The Kentucky-bred conditioned by Michael Matz would become the first local horse to achieve those feats since Spectacular Bid achieved those honors in 1978.

A victory in the Juvenile Fillies on November 4 by Grace Hall would all but assure the filly, owned by Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables, the 2-year-old filly championship honors. The Kentucky-bred conditioned by Anthony Dutrow would become the first local horse to achieve that feat since the brilliant filly Go For Wand, owned by Jane DuPont Lunger’s Christiana Stables, won the honor in 1989.

Havre de Grace was stabled at Delaware Park from April through late September. She won the Grade III Obeah Stakes and then suffered her lone defeat of the year when she ran second, beaten by a nostril, against her arch-rival Blind Luck in what many have dubbed the “The Race of the Year” in the Grade II Delaware Handicap. Undeterred, Havre de Grace followed with victories in the Woodward, against the boys, at Saratoga and the Beldame at Belmont Park.

Union Rags broke his maiden going five furlongs at Delaware Park on July 12. The undefeated son of Dixie Union followed by winning the Grade II Saratoga Special and the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.

Grace Hall, undefeated in three career outings, broke her maiden at Delaware Park going six furlongs on July 30. The daughter of Empire Maker conditioned by Anthony Dutrow then won the Grade I Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga. In her most recent outing, she won the $75,000 Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware Park on October 1.

Other notable Delaware Park connected horses in the Breeders’ Cup include the following:

E-Racing.com and Kevin Jacobsen’s Eldaafer, who will run in the Marathon on Saturday, recently ran second in the $75,000 Governor’s Day Stakes at Delaware Park on September 10. Previously, the 6-year-old son of A.P. Indy conditioned by Diane Alvarado won a mile-and-a-sixteenth allowance at Delaware Park on August 17. Last year, the Kentucky-bred won the Marathon after being stabled at Delaware Park. He has a career record of 11 wins, a second and five thirds from 31 starts, with earnings of $753,132.

George and Lori Hall’s Ruler on Ice, who will run in the Classic on Saturday, broke his maiden at Delaware Park last year. This year, the 3-year-old son of Roman Ruler conditioned by Kelly Breen won the Belmont Stakes on June 11. In his most recent, the Kentucky-bred ran second in the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on September 24. He has a career record of three wins, three seconds and two thirds from 10 starts, with earnings of $1,108,500

H. Graham Motion, who won the Kentucky Derby this year with Animal Kingdom and is locally-based at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Maryland, will enter five horses in the Breeders’ Cup Championships. On Saturday, Motion, who has won 21 stakes at Delaware Park including two this year and the 1997 Delaware Handicap, will have Hoofit in the Turf Sprint and Lucky Chappy & State of Play in the Juvenile Turf. On Friday, he has Aruna and Shared Account in the Filly & Mare Turf.

Michael Matz will also have Somali Lemonade in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Ramon Dominguez, the all-time leading Delaware Park jockey by wins, has ten Breeders’ Cup mounts. On Saturday, he has mounts on Havre de Grace in the Classic; Gio Ponti in the Turf Mile; Hansen in the Juvenile; Dean’s Kitten in Turf; Big Drama in the Sprint; and State of Play in the Juvenile Turf.

On Friday, he has mounts aboard Grace Hall in the Juvenile Fillies; It’s Tricky in the Ladies Classic; Stacelita in the Filly & Mare Turf; and Dayatthespa in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Dominguez was the leading rider at Delaware Park from 2003 through 2006 and 2008, before moving his tack to the New York circuit. He holds the record for most wins during a Delaware Park season (254 in 2003) and he has won a total of 62 Delaware Park stakes including the 2001 and 2007 Delaware Handicaps.

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