Separated by just a nose in the recent National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT), Interactif and Grand Rapport will meet again in the $250,000 Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park Sept. 25. The 1 1/8-mile turf event for 3-year-olds attracted a field of nine.
In the Aug. 13 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga, odds-on choice Interactif prevailed by a nose over Grand Rapport, who was sent off at 9-1. Trainer Gary Contessa is excited about Earle Mack’s Grand Rapport and he is looking forward to a rematch with Interactif.
“He is training fantastic and the race he ran at Saratoga was outstanding,” said Contessa. “I mean, I think he could have won that race. He won the race one jump before the wire and one jump after the wire; he just got nailed right on the wire. He probably should have won the Hall of Fame, but that is racing.”
In his only other start this year, Grand Rapport won a nine-furlong turf allowance at Monmouth Park on July 16.
Last year, after breaking his maiden in his career debut on the dirt at Saratoga, the son of Grand Reward was unplaced in both the Futurity (gr. II) at Belmont and Remsen (gr. II) at Aqueduct. He sports a career record of 2-1-0 from five starts with earnings of $112,139. Ramon Dominguez, a five-time Delaware Park leading jockey (2003-06 and 2008), will be returning to the racetrack for the first time this season for the mount.
“He is just training up a storm,” Contessa said. “He is really a nice horse. We have always kind of figured he would be a turf horse, but he never got that opportunity as a 2-year-old because he was injured fairly early and we gave him the winter off.
“I do not like to look to far ahead, but if all goes well I think the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) may be on his agenda later in the year. He is a natural distance horse and he looks like he is getting better. He is training well and he is coming into this race perfect.”
The likely favorite, Wertheimer and Frere’s homebred Interactif, will bring a career record of 4-3-1 from 11 starts with earnings of $563,350 into the Kent Stakes. His victory in the Hall of Fame Stakes was his first of the year and broke a six-race losing streak.
Previously, the son of Broken Vow ran second beaten 1 1/2-length in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) at Colonial Downs. Last year, the Todd Pletcher trainee won the With Anticipation Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga and Bourbon Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland before closing his 2-year-old campaign by finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita.
Estrorace’s Workin for Hops will also make his presence felt. In his most recent outing, the son of City Zip ran third, beaten two lengths by division leader Paddy O’Prado, in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park on Aug. 21. Previously, the Michael Stidham trainee won the American Derby (gr. IIT) at Arlington, the Arlington Classic, and Grindstone Stakes at Fair Grounds.
Going back to the nine-furlong distance should be to his advantage.
“He is doing fantastic,” said Stidham. “I think a mile and an eighth is right around his optimum distance, so I think the distance of the race suits him really well.”
Also in the race is Lael Stables' Lentenor, who is looking for his first win since breaking his maiden in January at Gulfstream. The full brother to Barbaro is trained by Michael Matz.
$250,000 Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4:24 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Grand Rapport (KY), R A Dominguez, 118, G C Contessa
2. Interactif (KY), F Jara, 122, T A Pletcher
3. Majestictroubadour (KY), A Delgado, 116, K C Boniface
4. Lentenor (KY), J Valdivia Jr., 116, M R Matz
5. Stormy Lord (ON), J McAleney, 120, I Black
6. They Call Me Giant (KY), J Rose, 118, K J Breen
7. Kara's Orientation (KY), E Ramsammy, 116, S Chircop
8. Thunder Brew (FL), A R Napravnik, 118, A Pecoraro
9. Workin for Hops (KY), B J Hernandez Jr., 120, M Stidham