Delaware Park Picks: Florent Geroux avoids Waterloo

Delaware Park's Saturday card includes a pair of intriguing 'Graded' contests ... see what horses jockey Florent Geroux draws, as J.N. Campbell offers his opinions.
Delaware Park's Saturday card includes a pair of intriguing "Graded" contests ... see what horses jockey Florent Geroux draws, as J.N. Campbell offers his opinions.

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The Grade III Robert Dick Memorial S. and the Grade II Delaware Park Handicap are a pair of "Features" on the Saturday card at Delaware Park. Our turf-man previews these contests, along with giving his selections for the entire card...

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Race 5: 1 3/8th (Turf) Robert G. Dick Memorial S. (G3), Purse: $150k, F&M 3+

Depending on the amount of rainfall that hit the DP turf course, we will have to wait and see if this one remains on the turf. Hope it does … Looking at this field of 9, there are a number of directions you can head off in. If you are going to consider runners from solid barns that have both recency and turf experience, then you must look at Graham Motion’s pair.

Blame Debbie #3 and Tonal Verse #6 both have a variety of pluses and minuses. The former is owned by Eclipse Thoroughbreds, and they have invested in some fine grass runners over the years. Their filly out of Blame came off-the-bench at Pimlico back in June, and she had her way with a pretty weak field of 5 others. Now, we are going to see if she has the form that she so ably displayed last year. Her score in the Dowager (G3) at Keeneland was a highlight.

As for the latter Herringswell Stables’ entry, she is less experienced when it comes to “G” Co., but she does have local DP runs that are inviting. This is a major step that she is going to have to take, but I am sure her conditioner knows what she is up for. Her price will swell towards 20/1, I would imagine, as Carol Cedeno gets the call once again. While Motion holds a strong hand, there are a few other runners that I think have the game to get home, especially under these conditions.

Mike Stidham’s Micheline #4 has garnered attention for both her turf record and travelling habits (she suffers from claustrophobia). The Godolphin-owned homebred has missed 2x in-a-row of late in the Jenny Wiley (G1) and the Eatontown (G3). It is time to get back on track. She is more than capable, as Joe Bravo rides her for the first time in a year. The added distance should be a nice dram.

As for one other, I am jazzed and more than just interested in Brendan Walsh’s Temple City Terror #5. This Pocket Aces Racing member exhibited an excellent burst of speed last time in a 110k @CD. The 5-yr-old mare came from well-back at the 1st call, to win the 1½ distance test. Now, heading into this spot for Walsh, she seems poised for further improvement. It is going to be a test, but she has Dynaformer in her blood, and we all know what that means—turf routing par excellence. The re-addition of Florent Geroux seems to be a good move. Maybe she will drift towards 8/1. That could make her a nice “graduated” WPS bet btw. Keep that in mind.

Here is the exotic play, which could be a juicy score in the end …

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Wheel, 3/5 w 3/4/6

Race 9: 1¼ (Dirt) Delaware Handicap (G2), Purse: $400k, F&M 3+

The “signature” race of the DP Meet is this one that offers a juicy set of winnings to the connections that can cross the wire first. Historically, big races like these have seen more and more “invaders” draw in. This is a horse that is based out of state, but is coming specifically because there is a tidy sum to be had. Critics have charged that this is rather an unfair practice, as it pushes smaller, local barns, out of the way. The connections “invade,” pirate the winnings, and leave little in their wake. The counter argument is it gives 2nd and 3rd tier tracks the chance to welcome some of the sport’s biggest names. Thus, notoriety increases “the handle,” supposedly, and that makes everyone happy. This year’s edition came up with only 7 runners, and of course, Brad Cox has one that is going to garner quite a bit of attention.

Just so … Bonny South #5 is a Juddmonte homebred that has turned in some nice performances over the past year. They were not all stellar, mind you, because there was that eyesore of a ride by her jockey Florent Geroux in the rescheduled October running of Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico. She was more than just pinched at the start, and it set her back so far that it was virtually impossible to catch the Ryerson Barn’s Miss Marissa #6. That filly is back to challenge Cox’s ace once again here at DP. I think both these horses are world’s apart since the last time they met. “Bonny” has faced much better class competition, including Letruska and Shedaresthedevil (another Cox ace!), in the Ogden Phipps (G1) @BEL. She has to be the odds-on at DP.

To beat her, it is going to be a monumental task for likes of “Marissa,” Queen Nekia #2, and Dream Marie #3. Those possible second choice-types are going to have to hope she is majorly off her game. Of those, I find Matt Williams’ “Dream” to be the most intriguing. She is a local filly who won the prep for this race, a “Non-G” 100k event with Joe Bravo aboard. The daughter of Graydar made an impressive 5-wide move, enroute to posting an impressive mid-nineties speed fig. That is the kind of “umph” late on the dirt that makes me think she can challenge Geroux’s tactics. As for “Nekia,” she was entered in the Grade 1 Phipps against Letruska/Shedaresthedevil/Bonny South back on Belmont Stakes Day in early June. She finished 4th out of 5, 14-lengths back. I cannot see her improving in this spot, but I am willing to use her, especially if her price drift up above 5/1. It may not, but one can hope.

I do not know if I have the moxie to spurn Cox in this situation. His filly might be just too good for this paltry class of a field. Still, strange things happen in spots like these, as we just saw in the Indiana Derby this past Wednesday. A heavy Cox favorite lost, probably when he shouldn’t have. This is horse racing …

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Box, 2/3/5/6

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