Mary Delaney has not been in top form since April, but a return trip to her favorite racetrack might be just what the doctor ordered, as the 4-year-old Hennessy filly looks to get back to her winning ways Dec. 1 in the $50,000 Holiday Inaugural at six furlongs on the Polytrack at Turfway Park.
Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Mary Delaney will have to overcome the outside post in a field of 11 fillies and mares, and defeat Lady Belsara, who dished out her only loss in four career Turfway starts.
Out of the Crafty Prospector mare Crafty Emerald, Mary Delaney began the campaign by reeling off three consecutive stakes victories, two at Turfway and one at Keeneland, where she captured the April 11 Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. II) on Polytrack in what was the best race of her career. In that seven-furlong event, the bay filly defeated Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner and older filly or mare Eclipse Award candidate Ginger Punch by a length and a half.
After taking second in the May 13 Hendrie Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine, Mary Delaney has been off the board in three starts.
“We tried her on the dirt at Belmont (in the Vagrancy Handicap, gr. II),” Kenneally said. “She didn’t like the surface, so we switched her back to synthetic. She needed the race at Presque Isle (in which she was fifth over Tapeta), and then we sent her back to Polytrack. For whatever reason, she has adapted well to Polytrack. I don’t think anyone knows for sure why.”
In her career, which began in England, Mary Delaney has raced on Polytrack eight times, winning five. Her two stakes victories at Turfway came in gate-to-wire fashion. During her three-race losing streak, Mary Delaney has been unable to get the early lead.
“It’s hard to say if she’ll get the lead. There are some other horses with speed,” said Kenneally, who conditions for Fergus Galvin. “But she has plenty of natural speed if she wants to use it. She is training super right now.”
Mary Delaney has been off since her third-place finish in the Oct. 6 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland. She has worked three times this month, including a four-furlong breeze in :46 on Nov. 21 where she recorded the best time of 26 timed works at Turfway that day.
Brian Hernandez Jr., will ride for the first time. The 9-5 morning-line favorite, Mary Delaney was bred in Kentucky by Mary Anne Parris and Ashford Stud.
A 4-year-old daughter of Boundary, Lady Belsara was also in better form earlier in the year when she placed in four consecutive starts, winning two. One of those was a half-length score in the June 16 Chicago Handicap (gr. III) at Arlington Park on Polytrack. Since then, she was fifth in the Thoroughbred Club of America and eighth in the one-mile Chilukki Stakes (gr. II) on the dirt at Churchill Downs Nov. 3.
Owned by At the Moment Stables and trained by Matt Kintz, Lady Belsara defeated Mary Delaney at Turfway in September 2006 in a six-furlong allowance event. William Troilo will ride in the Holiday Inaugural and will get the benefit of the inside post. Lady Belsara is the 5-2 second choice.
Two others to watch are Miss A. Bomb, a 3-year-old filly who won the Inaugural Stakes at Presque Isle Downs Sept. 1, and Illinois-bred Trout River Red, an Indian Charlie filly with stakes victories this year at Mountaineer Casino Resort and Racetrack and Hawthorne Race Course.
$50,000 Holiday Inaugural (Race 10, 5:19 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, Six Furlongs (Polytrack)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Lady Belsara, 124, William Troilo
2. Trout River Red, 124, Orlando Mojica
3. Hidden Grove, 117, Thomas Pompell
4. Miss A. Bomb, 123, Dylan Williams
5. Fast Deal, 120, Terry Thompson
6. Milago, 118, Victor Lebron
7. Modjadji, 124, Rodney Prescott
8. Ituna, 118, Larry Melancon
9. Humorous Gal, 118, John McKee
10. Littlebitabling, 117, Phil Teator
11. Mary Delaney, 124, Brian Hernandez, Jr.