The seven-furlong Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) presented little challenge for winner Delaunay. Breaking from the ninth and final gate on the sloppy main track May 4, Delaunay moved forward quickly to press the pace set by champion sprinter Trinniberg. As they closed the quarter in :22.29, it was still Trinniberg and Delaunay leading the field with Handsome Mike, Laurie’s Rocket, and Night Party racing close behind. At the head of the lane, jockey Rosie Napravnik guided Delaunay to make his move as a tired Trinniberg began to fade. Delaunay pulled away to dominate the field and win by four lengths in 1:22.35. Pass the Dice rallied from eighth to place second—a solid 31/2 lengths ahead of Laurie’s Rocket. Handsome Mike held on to finish fourth, while Trinniberg lost momentum and crossed the finish line seventh.
Delaunay’s win gave owner Maggi Moss two-for-two weekend wins at Churchill, after her filly, So Many Ways, had captured the grade III Eight Belles Stakes on Friday. It also gave Delaunay his fourth straight win at Churchill Downs (including the Kelly’s Landing Stakes in June of last year and the Bet On Sunshine Stakes in November), his sixth straight win (all of them stakes races), and his first graded stakes win (in only his second graded stakes appearance).
Bred in Maryland by Fitzhugh, Delaunay was first trained by Richard W. Small and raced by his breeder. After breaking his maiden at Philadelphia Park (now PARX Racing) in his second start, he raced mainly in the Midatlantic at the allowance/optional claiming level. As a 5-year-old, interest in this son of Smoke Glacken was at its peak as he was claimed and reclaimed five times in four months. His final claim was at Churchill Downs for Moss for $40,000 in May 2012.
Since that time, and under the training of Tom Amoss, the 6-year-old gelding has not been entered for a tag. Rather, he’s run only in stakes races, winning all but one. After Delaunay’s spectacular performance in the Churchill Downs Stakes, Amoss commented, “I think you’d have a lot of doubt not calling him the best sprinter in the country after (the race).”
Out of the mare Perilous Night, by stakes-winning Coronado’s Quest, Delaunay has earned $803,486. In 39 starts his record is 14-8-3.
Smoke Glacken has sired 55 stakes winners, including this year’s winner of the grade I Apple Blossom Handicap, On Fire Baby. Smoke Glacken stands for $10,000 at Gainesway near Lexington.-—M.P.