Shapiro analyzes the Delaware Handicap
Elate winning the Beldame Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park last September (c) NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography
by Scott Schapiro
The $750,000 Delaware Handicap (G2) headlines a 10-race card on Saturday afternoon at beautiful Delaware Park.
The race won in 2017 by dual champion Songbird drew the 2-1-favorite from last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) in Elate (#6). The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has not been seen since the disappointing fourth-place effort at Del Mar in early November, but has trained forwardly at Saratoga since early May for Hall of Famer Bill Mott.
The four-year-old filly won her debut in November 2016 at Aqueduct by 12 lengths for a barn which rarely has their runners cranked on first asking, so she has proven she can fire a big shot fresh. Additionally, she won her only race over the Delaware Park main track when beating three rivals by 5 1/2 lengths last June in a stakes contest.
Elate’s price off the layoff, especially with the early departure of Farrell who was listed at 9-2 on the morning-line before scratching Wednesday, will be too short for me to endorse wagering on her to win. On the other hand, she towers over this group on talent and class, and should sit a great trip under 2017 Eclipse Award-winning rider Jose Ortiz, so trying to beat her is not an attractive option. Instead, I think seeking value underneath in the exotics is the way to go in the Delaware Handicap.
Unbridled Mo (#5) is the 5-2-second choice for trainer Todd Pletcher, but I am not convinced she has to finish in the top two on Saturday afternoon. Sure, she bested Unique Bella two-back in the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1), but that came when the Eclipse Award winner botched the start in mid-April.
Mopotism (#3) is also likely to garner a lot of attention at the pari-mutuel windows for Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O’Neill. The daughter of Uncle Mo has talent and has run some big races, but I question her ability to get a mile and a quarter.
Teresa Z (#1) interests me for trainer Anthony Margotta Jr. The St Elias Stable filly ran a career best 99 BRIS Speed rating on June 16 in the Obeah Stakes and appears to be a horse on the improve. Jockey Daniel Centeno should be able to save ground early on a racetrack over which this daughter of Smart Strike already has a win and a third in two lifetime starts. Given the presence of Unbridled Mo and Mopotism, an exacta with Elate over Teresa Z should provide a solid return on investment in this 10-furlong, Grade 2 event.
$20 Exacta: 6-1
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