Michael Burns

Delegation Back Home for Durham Cup Defense

Son of Speightstown faces five at Woodbine Oct. 6 after tiring in Pacific Classic.

After finding Game On Dude too tough to handle on the West Coast, Delegation should feel much more comfortable as he returns to Woodbine to defend his title in the $150,000 Durham Cup (Can-III) Oct. 6.

Gary Barber's 4-year-old Speightstown  gelding stayed close to top-ranked Game On Dude for a mile in the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) Aug. 25 at Del Mar, but weakened in the stretch to finish sixth in the 10-furlong event. He will try to regroup at Woodbine, where he has won five of six starts on the Polytrack.

Delegation faces five opponents in the 1 1/8-mile Durham Cup, which he won in front-running style by 1 1/4 lengths last year. Following that victory, he went on to post a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park.

The Kentucky-bred captured the Dominion Day Stakes (Can-III) at 1 1/4 miles by more than nine lengths July 1, prompting trainer Mark Casse to give the Pacific Classic a shot. Given a breather since that effort, Delegation has returned to work twice over his favorite strip, breezing a bullet five furlongs in :59 3/5 Sept. 20, then coming back a week later to drill the same distance in 1:00 4/5.

Delegation drew the rail for his return against a salty group that includes graded stakes winners So Long George, James Street, and Alpha Bettor, who is the 123-pound highweight. Delegation, to be ridden by Luis Contreras, carries 121.

The Durham Cup is race 8 on Woodbine's Sunday card with a 4:24 p.m. EDT scheduled post. It is preceded two races earlier by the $150,000 Grey Stakes (Can-III) for 2-year-olds.

Alpha Bettor and So Long George are two others who should welcome the comfortable confines of Woodbine after venturing elsewhere for their most recent starts. Alpha Bettor, who scored a repeat win in the Seagram Cup (Can-III) Aug. 3, faded in the stretch to finish 10th in the listed Presque Isle Downs Mile Sept. 8, his only start away from Woodbine in 24 races. So Long George, upset winner of Woodbine's Nijinsky Stakes (Can-IIT) on turf July 21, was last of five in the Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) on a yielding Saratoga Race Course turf Aug. 31. It was also his only try away from Woodbine in his 14-race career.

Bulldog Racing's Alpha Bettor also won the Eclipse Stakes (Can-II) this season for trainer Dan Vella, edging odds-on favorite Delegation by a neck. The Kentucky-bred 5-year-old son of Alphabet Soup is to be ridden once again by Justin Stein.

So Long George, trained by John Charalambous for Uphill Stable, has done his best work on grass, but he has won two of six starts on Woodbine's Polytrack including an allowance victory last December. Tyler Pizarro has the call.

Melnyk Racing Stable's James Street was third in last year's Durham Cup for trainer Josie Carroll and captured the Autumn Stakes (Can-II) in his next start. The 6-year-old son of El Prado is winless in five tries this season, however, and was sixth with trouble in the Seagram Cup last time out. Patrick Husbands will be aboard.

Peyton, an allowance winner Sept. 13 for trainer Michael Doyle and Windhaven Farms, tries to break through with his first graded stakes win. Chiefswood Stable's Awesome Overture, who finished second to Peyton last time after setting the pace as the 3-5 favorite for trainer Paul Attard, completes the field.

$150,000 Durham Cup Stakes (Can-III, Race 8, 4:24 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Delegation (KY), L Contreras, 121, M E Casse
2. Peyton (ON), G Boulanger, 119, M J Doyle
3. James Street (KY), P Husbands, 119, J Carroll
4. Alpha Bettor (KY), J Stein, 123, D J Vella
5. So Long George (KY), T Pizarro, 121, J Charalambous
6. Awesome Overture (ON), J M Campbell, 119, P Attard