Delaware Park’s centerpiece event, the Grade II, $750,000 Delaware Handicap, takes place this Saturday. The 1 1/4-mile event drew a field of nine older fillies and mares led by multiple Grade I winner ELATE. Post time for the Delaware Handicap, Race 9 of 10 on the day, is 5:35 p.m. EST. As always, be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
#6 ELATE (2-1, morning-line favorite) makes her 2018 debut in the Delaware Handicap. She blossomed late in her three-year-old season, crushing her foes in the 1 1/4-mile Alabama and 1 1/8-mile Beldame in consecutive starts before settling for fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She was also second by a head to Abel Tasman in the CCA Oaks last year. ELATE has a prior win at Delaware, which is always noteworthy, as she took last year’s Light Hearted Stakes. She also has the experience edge going the demanding 1 1/4-mile distance. Despite the eight-month layoff she carries into this race, ELATE is the pick. Jose Ortiz ships in for the assignment.
#1 TERESA Z (10-1) scored decisively in the Obeah Stakes, the local prep for the Delaware Handicap, when last seen. That was her second career stakes win; she also took the Monmouth Oaks at three. TERESA Z had some excuses after that start, finding Grade I company too tough before encountering a sloppy track in the Serena’s Song two-back. This is a demanding spot for her, but we know she can handle the track and she’ll keep the red-hot Daniel Centeno (28% at the meet) aboard.
#5 UNBRIDLED MO (5-2) is a multiple graded stakes winner but tends to be an all-or-nothing proposition. She’s won seven of her 11 lifetime starts but has only one other ITM finish; a distant third in the Ogden Phipps last time out. UNBRIDLED MO needs to pick it up in the speed figure department if she wants to beat ELATE but has a solid case for a small share in here. John Velazquez has the call.
The play: $5 exacta 6/1,5 ($10)
DFJ analysis: The absence of Jose Ortiz and John Velazquez at Belmont should enable Irad Ortiz Jr. to have another highly-productive day there. He rides in nine of 10 races on Saturday and just one of those mounts is above 9-2 on the morning-line. Things really heat up for Ortiz later in the day, as he rides the favorite in Races 6, 7 and 9. That includes Disco Partner (9-5) in Race 9, the Forbidden Apple Stakes.
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