Two Stars Do Battle in Delaware Handicap
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Fleur de Lis winner Hystericalady will take on Unbridled Belle in the Delaware Handicap.
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A quality field of 11  fillies and mares will do battle in the $1-million Delaware Handicap (gr. II) July 13, but the 10-furlong event may come down to superstars Hystericalady and Unbridled Belle, who have a combined eight graded stakes victories between them.

As a designated “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge event, the winner of the 71st running of the Delaware Handicap will automatically qualify for the Oct. 24 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita. Live coverage of the Barbaro Stakes (gr. III) and Delaware Handicap will begin at 5 p.m. EDT on ESPN2.

Choosing between Hystericalady and Unbridled Belle is a difficult task, as both 5-year-old mares enter the Delaware Handicap in top form. Trained and co-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer, Hystericalady romped by 7 1/2 lengths in the June 14 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. It was her fifth career graded stakes score and the second of the season.

"You never really expect to win a race by that much," Hollendorfer said. "But she really gets a hold of Churchill Downs' main track, so we were expecting a solid performance from her."

Bred in Kentucky by Abbott Properties, the daughter of Distorted Humor  --Sacramentada, by Northair has produced a 9-3-2 record from 19 starts and earned more than $1.5 million in her stellar career. Last year she lost the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) by a neck. Garrett Gomez will get the mount on the 3-1 second choice.

In her lone start at Delaware Park, Hystericalady finished fifth in the 2006 Delaware Oaks (gr. II).

Team Valor Stables’ Unbridled Belle proved she enjoys the Delaware racing surface, as she went gate-to-wire in winning the June 14 Obeah Stakes (gr. III) by 5 3/4 lengths. It was the third career graded stakes triumph for the daughter of Broken Vow  . The first of those came last year in the Delaware Handicap, where she blew away the competition by nearly eight lengths under Ramon Dominguez. Unbridled Belle will try to become the fifth repeat winner in the history of the event.

Bred in Kentucky by Joe Sutton and Laszio Makk, Unbridled Belle is out of the Silver Buck mare Little Bold Belle. The Todd Pletcher trainee has produced a 6-3-1 record from 15 starts and has earned more than $1.3 million. She was fifth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Dominguez, Delaware's leading rider, will be aboard.

A pair of contenders that have a decent chance of pulling off the upset are Stronach Stables’ Spring Waltz and Hinkle Farms’ Buy the Barrel – both of them entering off graded stakes victories.

A late-blooming 5-year-old mare by Silver Charm, Spring Waltz made her stakes debut March 9 in the Rampart Handicap (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park. The Kentucky-bred had no problem, coming from off the pace to score by 3 1/4 lengths as the favorite in the nine-furlong event. Spring Waltz enters the Delaware Handicap on a four-race win streak, including a 13-length romp in allowance competition Feb. 17 at Gulfstream Park. Javier Castellano rides for Bobby Frankel.

Larry Jones trainee Buy the Barrel was impressive while taking the May 17 Allaire DuPont Distaff (gr. II) by 2 1/2 lengths on Preakness day at Pimlico. It was also her first try in graded stakes company, although the 4-year-old E Dubai filly had won twice before in stakes events. Buy the Barrel will stretch out to a mile and quarter for the first time.

$1,000,000 Delaware Handicap (gr. II, Race 11 , 5:46 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Moon Catcher (MD), 115, Edgar Prado
2. Santa Teresita (KY), 117, Kent Desormeaux
3. All Smiles (MD), 112, Pablo Morales
4. Buy the Barrel (KY), 118, Gabriel Saez
5. Over Under (KY), 112, Miguel Mena
6. Lemon Drop Mom (KY), 116, Jose Caraballo
7. Kathleens Reel (KY), 115, Chris Emigh
8. Hystericalady (KY), 121, Garrett Gomez
9. Unbridled Belle (KY), 122, Ramon Dominguez
10. Spring Waltz (KY), 119, Javier Castellano
11. Copper State (IL), 115, Mario Pino

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