Dunbar Road should dominate Delaware Handicap field

Delaware Park’s centerpiece race, the Grade II, $400,000 Delaware Handicap, is set for Saturday. A field of eight has entered, but both #1 VEXATIOUS and #5 ALWAYS SHOPPING are expected to run in Saturday’s Ruffian Stakes at Belmont instead. That would leave just five others to face the imposing DUNBAR ROAD in this 1 1/8-mile affair. Estimated post time for the Delaware Handicap, the eighth of a scheduled 10 races, is 4:45 p.m. ET.

#2 DUNBAR ROAD (6-5, morning-line favorite) won easily in her first start at four – the Shawnee Stakes at Churchill. That boosted her record to 5-for-8 lifetime. DUNBAR ROAD does her best running from behind, and it looks like she’ll have a target to track in BELLERA. This solid favorite can handle any going, as her lone Grade I victory to date, last August’s Alabama Stakes, came over a sloppy Saratoga surface. DUNBAR ROAD will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., who saw fit to make the trip for Chad Brown.

#4 BELLERA (7-2) has never run out of the exacta in dirt routes, excluding the Turnback the Alarm Stakes in which she lost the rider coming out of the gate last November. She’s also a perfect 2-for-2 on wet tracks. BELLERA can easily shake off her last two lousy efforts going short on dirt followed by an ill-advised turf try. Trevor McCarthy rides for Todd Pletcher.

#7 SARACOSA (10-1) is just 2-for-17 lifetime but could hit the exacta with a peak performance. She produced two respectable efforts against tough competition at Oaklawn earlier this year before running a solid second against allowance/optional claiming foes at Churchill. Martin Garcia is the listed rider, but a positive test for COVID-19 will likely necessitate a jockey change.

The play: $8 exacta 2/4, $2 exacta 2/7 ($10)

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