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Royal Delta's last win came in the Sabin in February where she beat the field by five lengths before flying to Dubai to race in the Dubai World Cup (Photo courtesy Coglinese Photos).

The 76th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Delaware Handicap (which carries a grade one status for the first time since 1989) is all about champion and dual Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic winner Royal Delta, who gamely won this race last year by a neck and is looking to rebound after unsuccessfully defending her title in the Fleur de Lis in her last race. A quintet of fillies and mares are signed on to try and upset the champion, but that number could be smaller as two of the five – Authenticity and Summer Applause – have been cross-entered in the Grade 3 Shuvee Handicap at Saratoga on the same day.  Should she run, Authenticity could be the spoiler as she is coming into the Delaware Handicap off a game runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap in May. Summer Applause however is another gal of note, bringing a five for eleven record into the race and with two graded stakes victories in her last three races including the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap in March. She's All In, winner of the Grade 3 Sixty Sales Handicap in the spring of 2012, as well as Grade 3 Obeah Stakes runner-up And Why Not and Ogden Phipps third-place finisher Centring round out the field.

Authenticity started her career a bit late in life, as a four-year-old in 2011, winning in her second career start then finishing second before a lengthy 18 month layoff. Returning to the races this past January while moving to the barn of North American leading trainer Todd Pletcher, Authenticity has improved by leaps and bounds, first winning in February by 17 lengths then finishing second twice and first once in graded stakes. Her victory in the La Troienne Stakes in May earned a career best 106 Equibase Speed Figure, which she followed up by a new career best figure, 116, when second in the Ogden Phipps Handicap at the end of May. It must be noted that the horse that beat Authenticity by a half-length in the Phipps was none other than Tiz Miz Sue, who was a head shy of posting the big upset over Royal Delta and winning last year's edition of the Delaware Handicap. As such, Authenticity appears to be the type that blossoms later in her career than many and is still improving, such that she can post the upset win in this race.

After a runner-up effort in her first start of 2012 and then a poor ninth-place finish in the Dubai World Cup, Royal Delta won four of five races in a sterling campaign capped by a repeat win in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic with a 117 Equibase Speed Figure. Unlike last year (when second in the Sabin Stakes to start her yearly campaign), this year Royal Delta won the Sabin before another disappointing trip to Dubai with a 10th place finish in the World Cup. Returning to the states to defend her title in this year's Fleur de Lis, Royal Delta finished second while never threatening to win, earning only a 97 figure, nowhere near the 122 figure effort put forth a year earlier. However, since then trainer Bill Mott has put Royal Delta through a series of three sharp workouts designed to get her back to her best form, which is certainly good enough to help her become a repeat winner of the Delaware Handicap.

Summer Applause showed some quality last year as a three-year-old when winning the Rachel Alexandra Stakes before a second place finish in the Fair Grounds Oaks, followed by a fourth place effort in the Kentucky Oaks. Rested for eight months after the Oaks, Summer Applause won the Top Flight Handicap in her second start of the year, earning a career best 109 figure. Two races later she won the DuPont Distaff Stakes rather impressively, both of those graded stakes wins coming since joining the barn of excellent conditioner Chad Brown. Likely to have more improvement to show as a four year old, Summer Applause is another that might have what it takes to post the upset in the Delaware Handicap if Royal Delta cannot improve back to last year's form.

The rest of the Delaware Handicap field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures, is And Why Not (101), Centring (114) and She's All In (109).

My Selections:


Royal Delta

Summer Applause


$750,000 Delaware Handicap

Saturday, Delaware Park, Race 9, Post Time 5:20 p.m. ET

1 ¼ miles, Fillies and Mares 3-year-olds and older








She's All In (OK)

V.R. Carrasco


D K Von Hemel



Summer Applause (KY)

A. Cintron


C C Brown



Royal Delta (KY)

M.E. Smith


W I Mott



Authenticity (KY)

D. Centeno


T A Pletcher



And Why Not (KY)

J. Navarro


M R Matz



Centring (KY)

I. Ortiz Jr.


T Albertrani


Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

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