A horse trained by Todd Pletcher easily won the Delaware Handicap on Sunday at Delaware Park – but it was not the one most people expected. With heavily favored Indian Vale laboring home fifth, Unbridled Belle won the first graded stakes of her career, and she won it in a romp.
Third in the early going while boxed in behind early leader Peak Maria's Way and Indian Vale, Unbridled Belle was angled off the rail around the far turn by jockey Ramon Dominguez, and when she made the front, the Delaware Handicap was all over. Unbridled Belle ran unchallenged through the stretch, finishing 7 3/4 lengths in front of 56-1 shot Lila Paige, who had 1 1/4 lengths on 20-1 Promenade Girl. Peak Maria's Way was another nose back in fourth, with Indian Vale a neck back in fifth. It was 10 more lengths back to second-choice Asi Siempre, who beat only Ice Cool Kitty and Daytime Promise. Take a Check was scratched.
Unbridled Belle, a 4-year-old owned by a Team Valor Stables partnership, showed signs of being a top horse last year at 3, though her only 2006 stakes win – also at Delaware – came in the $100,000 Go for Wand on May 27. Unbridled Belle had raced only once this year, finishing second to Peak Maria's Way in Delaware's stakes prep for the Delaware Handicap, and she took a giant step forward on Sunday. Dominguez had only to keep his seat – and keep Unbridled Belle focused the final 300 yards – to capture the $600,000 winner's share of the Grade 2, $1,000,900 Delaware Handicap.
Unbridled Belle paid $18.60 to win, and was timed in 2:01.16 for 1 1/4 miles.
Barbaro: Xchanger rates, wins
Xchanger looked like a pure front-runner during the spring phase of his season, but one start after fading badly in the Preakness Stakes, Xchanger let others do the heavy lifting early in Sunday's Barbaro Stakes. Rated in third by jockey Edgar Prado, Xchanger pounced on the leaders near the top of the stretch, and went on to a one-length victory over 4-5 favorite King of the Roxy in the Grade 3, $300,600 Barbaro.
Trained by Mark Shuman, who co-owns Xchanger with the Circle Z Stable and Joseph Masone, Xchanger paid $11.80 to win, and was timed in 1:43.40 for 1 1/16 miles on dirt. King of the Roxy made up a length on the winner between the stretch call and the finish, and had almost three lengths on pace-setting Phone Home, who was well clear of second-choice Longley in fourth.
Caesar Rodney: Silver Tree by length
Silver Tree ($3.40) won the $200,600 Caesar Rodney Stakes by a length in a race where half the 14 entrants were scratched.
The Bill Mott-trained 7-year-old stalked a slow pace, and held clear late-running Ballast, who had a highly eventful trip after dropping his rider and briefly running loose on the track before the Rodney's start.
* Smart and Fancy, a 4-5 shot, proved much the best in the $101,800 Light Hearted Stakes, winning the five-furlong turf sprint by 1 1/2 lengths.
Delaware Park, 11th Race - July 15, 2007
Delaware Park, 10th Race - July 15, 2007
Delaware Park, 9th Race - July 15, 2007