Candy DeBartolo’s Life At Ten, the late-blooming filly who has just begun to hit her best stride, will seek her sixth consecutive victory when she meets five rivals in the $750,000 Delaware Handicap (gr. II) July 17 at Delaware Park.
For the third consecutive time, the 1 1/4-mile Delaware Handicap has been designated as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race with the winner automatically qualifying for the BC Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov 5.
The 5-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon became a grade I winner June 12 with her 2 3/4-length triumph in the Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park—her third win in as many starts in 2010. Previously, the chestnut mare won the Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) by a length at Hawthorne Park in April and the Rare Treat Stakes at Aqueduct in February. Life At Ten scored in her final two outings of 2009 after going winless in her previous six starts.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said that while Life At Ten has shown to have ability throughout her career, that talent did not blossom until recently.
“I think there are a couple reasons for it,” said Pletcher. “She is a filly who has always shown a lot of potential in the morning. Some of her races were a little bit frustrating, but I think in retrospect we probably ran a few too many times on synthetic surfaces, which did not bring out her best.
“Also a couple of times last year, we ran her a little bit short of her best distances. Once she got into a good steady rhythm and since we have been able to keep her at a nice series of longer races, she has really developed into what we were hoping she could be.”
While two-turn races bring out her best, she has never raced at 10 furlongs. Pletcher is optimistic that she will handle the classic distance.
“She has handled a mile and an eighth very well, being 2-for-2,” he said. “Based upon her physical appearance and the way she travels, we think a mile and a quarter is within in her scope.”
A victory by Life At Ten will also give Pletcher his fourth Delaware Handicap victory, which would equal the record set by the late Henry Clark. Pletcher has won the filly and mare classic with Irving's Baby in 2001, Fleet Indian in 2006, and Unbridled Belle in 2007.
Life At Ten, the 8-5 morning-line favorite, sports a 6-5-1 record from 13 starts with earnings of $459,267. Bred in Kentucky by Nickelback Farm and out of the Rahy mare Rahrahsixboombah, she will be ridden by John Velazquez.
Also coming out of the Ogden Phipps is Mrs. C. Wilson McNeely’s Funny Moon, who was third under Alan Garcia. The 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon is proven at 10 furlongs, having won the grade I Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont last summer. This year, the Christophe Clement trainee won the one-mile Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont and was runner-up in the Doubledogdare (gr. III) at Keeneland.
Funny Moon, who will break from the rail under Garcia, will make her first start at Delaware. She is 5-2-1 from 10 starts overall.
The 2-1 second choice on the morning line is C.E.C. Farms’ homebred Milwaukee Appeal, best known for taking the 2009 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser and narrowly missing against males in two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown. Milwaukee Appeal is still seeking her first return trip to the winner’s circle since that triumph, as she win winless in her last eight starts including two losses in 2010. The bay filly was third in the May 15 Shuvee.
Despite her losing streak, Milwaukee Appeal has remained in good form, hitting the board in all but one of those starts. She was runner-up five times, including last out when defeated by a length in the Hill ‘n’ Dale Stakes at Woodbine. Stewart Elliott will have the mount once again for trainer Scott Farlie.
Team Valor International’s Miss Singhsix enters off a win in the local prep for the Del ‘Cap, the June 12 Obeah Stakes (gr. III). That was the first graded win for the 5-year-old Singspiel mare, who also finished a distant third in the Sixty Sails. The Marty Wolfson trainee will be ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr.
$750,000 Delaware Handicap (gr. II), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Odds
1. Funny Moon, Alan Garcia, 121, 7/2
2. Miss Singhsix, Jose Valdivia Jr., 118, 5-1
3. Milwaukee Appeal, Stewart Elliott, 119, 2-1
4. Million Seller, Jeremy Rose, 114, 15-1
5. Miss Match, Brian J. Hernandez Jr., 115, 12-1
6. Life At Ten, John Velazquez, 122, 8/5