Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Unbridled Belle tops 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 ¾-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.
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 ½-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 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.
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