Thursday, July 03, 2008
Unbridled Belle takes run at Delaware Handicap history
Horse, jockey and trainer will be looking to make history when Unbridled Belle defends her Delaware Handicap championship on Sunday, July 13. For the first time, the $1 million Grade II affair has been designated as a "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup Challenge race with the winner automatically qualifying for the Ladies' Breeders' Cup Classic on October 24.
Unbridled Belle, ridden by Ramon Dominguez and trained by Todd Pletcher, 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.
Her jockey Ramon Dominguez will be seeking his third Delaware Handicap victory. The 31-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela, won the Del 'Cap aboard Irving's Baby in 2001 and last year with Unbridled Belle. Only three other riders have won the race three or more times. They are Angel Cordero, Jerry Bailey and Eddie Maple. Cordero, who holds the record of four for the most wins, won aboard Politely in 1968, Krislin in 1974, Relaxing in 1981, and Coup de Fusil in 1987. Jerry Bailey and Eddie Maple each won the race three times. Bailey won aboard Heavenly Ade in 1980, Wild Spirit in 2003 and Island Sand in 2005. Maple won astride Optimistic Gal in 1976 and Nastique in 1988 and 1989.
"It would be extremely exciting to be able to win the race for a third time," said jockey Ramon Dominguez. "I still think about the times I have won the race and it has been very fulfilling just because Delaware has been my home town track. There is so much history and tradition in the Delaware Handicap and to be a part of that is overwhelming. I have grown as a jockey and a person in Delaware and it is just the biggest race here period. Winning the Delaware Handicap with Irving's Baby in 2001, I put in the top three accomplishments of my career."
Dominguez is very excited about his chances and is confident in her ability
"She is absolutely perfect for the distance," he said. "When you look at her she is a huge filly with tactical speed. She fits perfectly for the distance and she has a great record over the track, so our chances will be as good anybody."
Todd Pletcher would equal the record for most wins by a trainer with a victory. Henry Clark holds the record of four. Clark won back-to-back Del 'Caps with both Endine and with Obeah. Pletcher won the Delaware Handicap in 2001 with Irving's Baby, in 2006 with Fleet Indian, and last year with Unbridled Belle. He would also become the only trainer to win the race three consecutive times.
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