Delaunay Faces Uphill Battle To Repeat in CD

Delaunay Faces Uphill Battle To Repeat in CD
Photo: Mathea Kelley
Delaunay won the 2013 Churchill Downs Stakes by four lengths.
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Delaunay may be the defending champion of the Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 3, but last year's winner has a tall task in front of him if he's to repeat. Although he won last year's running by a devastating four lengths over the sloppy surface, Delaunay is the co-third choice on the morning line for this year's edition.
 
"He's doing really well, but I think he's got a tougher field to deal with this time," said trainer Tom Amoss. "It's a fun race as a handicapper, but as a trainer, not so much."
 
Maggi Moss' Delaunay was riding a five-race win streak entering the Churchill Downs a year ago, but the 7-year-old has managed just one victory in four trips to the post since. The ultra-consistent son of Smoke Glacken has run in the money 28 times in 43 lifetime starts. A win in the $400,000 Churchill Downs for 4-year-olds and up would make Delaunay ($904,486) a millionaire.
 
Morning-line favoritism in the seven-furlong Churchill Downs goes to Shakin It Up, who won the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) in December over seven panels and then stretched out to take the 1 1/16-mile Strub Stakes (gr. II). The Bob Baffert-trained son of Midnight Lute   was bred and is co-owned by Mike Pegram. He was most recently fifth as the 7-5 pick in the San Carlos Stakes (gr. II) behind Sahara Sky, who won his second straight San Carlos for trainer and co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer.
 
Sahara Sky is an excellent 7-3-3-1 at the distance and is no stranger to travel. Although based in California, he has journeyed to New York twice in the past year, winning the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) and twice finishing second in the Carter Handicap (gr. I). The son of Pleasant Tap has already gone over the $1 million mark in his 19-race career.
 
Clearly Now, winner of the Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) last October, ran just behind Sahara Sky in the Carter, finishing third in that April tilt. He has been in the money all five times at the distance.
 
Capo Bastone won the prestigious Foxwoods King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at seven furlongs last summer at Saratoga Race Course, but has been off form since, finishing up the track in both the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) and the Cigar Mile (gr. I).
 
Central Banker finished a half length in back of Shakin It Up in the Malibu but was up the track in the Carter. Falling Sky, 19th in the Kentucky Derby last year after winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) at Tampa Bay Downs, won the Gulfstream Park Sprint (gr. III) at seven furlongs in February. He faded to last in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) at a mile last out. 
 
Laugh Track has been off form since running second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) last year to Secret Circle. His third in the Commonwealth (gr. III) at Keeneland last out was his best effort since.
 
$400,000 Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 3:46 p.m.), 7 Furlongs
PP. Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1) Capo Bastone (KY) John Velazquez, 118, Todd Pletcher
2) Clearly Now (KY) Javier Castellano, 118, Brian Lynch
3) Broadway Empire (KY) Gary Stevens, 118, Robertino Diodoro
4) Sahara Sky (FL) Joel Rosario, 120, Jerry Hollendorfer
5) Quiet Force (KY) Julien Leparoux, 118, Mike Maker
6) Laugh Track (KY) Miguel Mena, 118, Mark Casse
7) River Bear (IL) Tim Thornton, 118, Rusty Hellman
8) Falling Sky (PA) Luis Saez, 118, George Weaver
9) Central Banker (KY) Corey Nakatani, 118, Al Stall Jr.
10) Delaunay (MD) Rosie Napravnik, 118, Tom Amoss
11) Shakin It Up (KY) Mike Smith, 123, Bob Baffert

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