Tough Field Hopes to Stop Summer Colony

(from track report)
Edward P. Evans' Summer Colony will attempt to become the fifth back-to-back winner of the $750,000 Delaware Handicap (gr. II) Sunday when she faces seven foes in the 66th renewal of the filly and mare classic at Delaware Park.

This year, the Delaware Handicap was elevated to Grade II status by the North American Graded Stakes Committee and Delaware Park raised the purse $150,000 to bring the total purse to $750,000.

Repeat winners in the Delaware, which is for fillies and mares going 10 furlongs, were Endine in 1958 & 1959, Obeah in 1969 & 1970, Blessing Angelica in 1971 & 1972, and Nastique in 1988 & 1989. (Susan's Girl won the Delaware Handicap twice, but they were not in successive years. She won in 1973 & 1975.)

Summer Colony has had two outings this year. In her most recent outing, the 5-year-old daughter of Summer Squall notched a three-length score in 1 1/8-mile Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Monmouth on June 28. Previously, the Kentucky-bred trained by Mark Hennig ran second, beaten by a neck, in the 1 1/16-mile Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap (gr. III) on May 16.

Last year, Summer Colony defeated future Horse of the Year Azeri by a length in the 1 1/8-mile La Canada (gr. II) at Santa Anita. She also won the Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap (gr. II), the Delaware Handicap, and the 1 1/4-mile Personal Ensign (gr. I) at Saratoga. She sports a career record of ten wins, five seconds, and a third from 21 starts with career earnings of $1,402,430.

Trainer Mark Hennig is focused on Summer Colony producing wins this year, but he also appreciates the prospect of winning big races in consecutive years.

"Anytime you win a big race it is nice and it would be nice to win it for her sake too," said trainer Mark Hennig. "Anytime you can win any race twice it is a thrill. We just won back to back Princess Rooneys at Calder with Gold Mover, so it was a thrill, plus the big pot on top of it makes it even more pleasurable."

The last to attempt back-to-back victories in the Delaware Handicap was Tap to Music, who won in 1999 and ran second to Lu Ravi in 2000.

Last year, Hennig shipped Summer Colony to Delaware Park on the morning of the Delaware Handicap. He will employ the same shipping strategy this year.

"She will ship in the morning of the race," said Hennig. "She is coming into the race real well. She breezed Monday morning and she did everything well."

Standing in the way of Summer Colony's bid for Delaware Handicap history will be Select Stable's Take Charge Lady.

Take Charge Lady has had two outings this year. In her most recent outing, the 4-year-old daughter of Dehere ran second, beaten by five lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park on June 21. Previously, the Kentucky-bred trained by Ken McPeek ran second, beaten a head in the 1 1/16-mile Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park on April 5. Last year, she posted a record of six wins and three seconds from 10 starts with earnings $1,388,635.

While Take Charge Lady has accomplished much in her career, she has yet to win at a mile and a quarter. However, trainer Ken McPeek is not overly concerned about the distance question because of her ability to rate.

"There is a little bit of concern," said trainer Ken McPeek. "She has never won that far before, but she is doing extremely well and I think she will perform well at that distance. She has always rated well and she has never really had any problem rating. In her last start, for whatever reason, she went a little to fast. As far as the pace, all that will be up to Shane Sellers. That is his call. He is just going to get her out and let her relax."

McPeek plans on shipping Take Charge Lady to Delaware Park on Friday or Saturday morning.

Perhaps the most intriguing entry in the race is Sumaya Us Stable's Wild Spirit. The Chile-bred trained by Robert Frankel has made only one start in North America. In her only outing this year, the 4-year-old daughter of Hussonet notched a 3 1/2-length score in the one mile Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park on May 17. Last year, she ran in South America where she compiled a record of six wins and three seconds from ten starts with earnings of $104,900 including victories at a mile and a quarter and a mile and three sixteenths. Her career record is seven wins and three seconds from eleven starts with earnings $224,690.

$750,000 Delaware Handicap (gr. II), fillies & mares, 3 & up, 1 1/4 mile
1. French Hideaway, Chris DeCarlo, 108, 20-1
2. Wild Spirit, Jerry Bailey, 117, 3-1
3. Take Charge Lady, Shane Sellers, 120, 4-1
4. Jaramar Rain, Rodrigo Madrigal Jr., 115, 12-1
5. Mandy's Gold, Anthony Black, 117, 5-1
6 Shiny Sheet, TBA, 111, 15-1
7. Devon Rose, Ramon Dominguez, 116, 8-1
8. Summer Colony, John Velazquez, 122, 2-1