Two-time champion filly Songbird, locally-owned by Richard Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, headlines the 80th renewal of the $ 750,000 Grade I Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park this Saturday. After being defeated in 2001 and again in 2011, Porter will be seeking his first victory in the biggest race of the year in the state he calls home. The mile-and-a-quarter filly and mare summer classic has attracted a field of six.
The Delaware Handicap and the Kent Stakes, will be aired on Fox Sports 2, MSG+, FOX Sports Prime Ticket, FOX Sports Ohio and FOX Sports San Diego from 4:00-6:00pm. The approximate post time of the Delaware Handicap is 5:30 p.m.
In her only outing this year, Songbird posted a length victory in the mile and a sixteenth $ 750,000 Grade I Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park on June 10. Last year, the 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro reeled off seven consecutive wins; including Grade I victories in the Santa Anita Oaks, Coaching Club Oaks & Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, and the Cotillion from Parx; before suffering her first career defeat by a nose against Beholder in the Breeder’s Cup Distaff at Santa Anita. The Kentucky-bred trained by Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has a career record of 12 wins and a second from 13 starts with earnings of $ 4,112,000.
Hollendorfer, has enjoyed great success shipping from southern California to Delaware. The native of Akron, Ohio, won the Delaware Oaks with the 3-year-old filly champion Blind Luck in 2010. The following year, he shipped her east again and defeated the eventual 2011 Horse of Year Havre de Grace by a nose in the Delaware Handicap. Hollendorfer also won the Delaware Handicap in 2008 with Hystericalady.
“I have run at Delaware before in a few races and I have been real fortunate in that most my horses have gotten over the racetrack,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. “Songbird is training really well right now and we are hopeful she can come in there and have a good start.”
Porter came closest to winning the Delaware Handicap with Havre de Grace, but was thwarted by Blind Luck and Jerry Hollendorfer in 2011. His only other starter in the race, Jostle, finished fourth in 2001.
Before the 2011 race, Porter described how much winning the Delaware Handicap meant to him and where it ranked in races he wanted to win the most.
“It is certainly high on the list and right up there with some of the most prestigious races in the country,” Porter said in 2011. “Obviously, being from Delaware and being the biggest race in Delaware, it is high, very high, on my list.”
Although he knows his filly faces a tall order, locally-based trainer Keith Nations is excited to give Martini Glass an opportunity to face the best filly in the country in a Grade I race at her home track.
“My filly is doing great and she is just getting better and better,” said trainer Keith Nations. “We are just excited to be in a race like this, not only with a horse I train, but one we own a part of. Realistically, if we could just get a part of it, it would be a really big deal for us. You know I had Songbird in my barn last year at Parx for the Cotillion and she is an extremely impressive filly. A while ago, Jerry (Hollendorfer) and I were stabled right next to each other at Golden Gate. He is an incredible horsemen and his record speaks for itself. Just to be in this race, is a big deal for us.”
In her last outing, the 4-year-old daughter Kitalpha finished second beaten a neck in mile and an eighth $ 100,000 Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park on June 10.
“She ran a very good race, but she got beat by a very game older mare,” Nations said. “At first we were a little disappointed, when I realized we lost to a very nice mare, I knew our filly ran a great race and she got a really good number, so we were happy with it. She has worked really good the last couple of breezes leading up to this race and Jose Ferrer, who has been her jock for the last two races, says she is the best she has ever been.”
The Kentucky-bred has a career record of seven wins, a second and a third from 14 starts with earnings of $ 115,195.
Ashbrook Farm’s Weep No More will be looking to get back on track after being unplaced in both of efforts this year. In her most recent effort, the 4-year-old daughter of Mineshaft finished sixth in the mile and an eighth $ 200,000 Grade II Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs. Previously, the Kentucky-bred trained by George Arnold II finished fifth in the mile and a sixteenth $ 100,000 Grade III Matron Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 20. Last year, she had a record of three victories, including the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, from six starts.
“She is doing really well,” said trainer George Arnold II. “We were hoping that her last race would have been a little bit better, but it was only her second race of the year and she had a few issues down the lane. We really like the mile and a quarter for her. We like everything about the race, except that Songbird is in the race.”
|1||Miss Mo Kelly||Kellyn Gorder||Kellyn Gorder||Carol Cedeno||111||15-1|
|2||Martini Glass||Campanella & Nation||Keith Nations||Jose Ferrer||115||8-1|
|3||Weep No More||Ashbrook Farm||George Arnold II||Joel Rosario||111||6-1|
|4||Line of Best Fit||Sheffield Stable||Keiron Magee||TBA||112||12-1|
|5||Songbird||Fox Hill Farms||Jerry Hollendorfer||Mike Smith||124||1/5|
|6||Hone In||G. Watts Humphrey||Victoria Oliver||Tyler Gaffalione||111||15-1|
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