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Delaware Handicap Preview: Songbird by 20

Melanie Martines

You don’t have to be an expert to figure this one out. Saturday’s Grade 1 Delaware Handicap has attracted a field of six, but only one horse will be the center of attention. Champion 2- and 3-year-old Horse of the Year Songbird, owned by Fox Hill Farms, will make her second start of the year after a solid 2017 debut win in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park last month.

Songbird drew post five and Mike Smith will be aboard to ride once again.  The other Grade 1 winner in the field is Weep No More, who will break from post three. Even though it’s been 15 months since her last victory, in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Ashland Stakes as a 3-year-old, this race’s distance of 1 1/4 miles could suit her well. The remainder of the field includes Miss Mo Kelly, Martini Glass, Line of Best Fit, and Hone In.

Top Choice

#5 Songbird – From a betting standpoint, this race will be fairly meaningless, but when the great horses go to the gate, is it really about the betting? The Champ is a joy to watch no matter where she runs, and much to the credit of her connections, they’ve taken this horse all over the country. Delaware Park will be a new stop for the future Hall of Fame filly, but don’t expect her to have any problems. From a handicapping prospective, this race will be a very nice paid workout for her. She towers over this bunch more than any race she’s entered since … perhaps ever. Just sit back and enjoy watching her run.

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NONE – Single “The Bird” and move on.

Exotic Plays

#2 Martini Glass – Winner of three out of her last four races this year, she just missed last time out in the local prep race for this event. She looks to be somewhat of a hot horse coming into the race and is most likely to finish second behind The Champ. Does she warrant any chance of actually winning? No, not at all.

#4 Line of Best Fit – She enters the race off of two impressive allowance victories by multiple lengths, but those wins came at Parx. Obviously, she doesn’t match up with the amazing Songbird, but as far as the others in this spot go, she could be ok. If you handicap the field without Songbird in it, this horse would probably be around the 3-1 range because of her nice recent form. She’s a solid underneath option.

Party Crashers

NONE – A loss from Songbird in this spot would be considered one of the biggest upsets of all time.

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Throw Outs

#1 Miss Mo Kelly – Her last stakes win came at Remington Park last December, and since that race, she’s been beaten badly in tougher races. She might have a bit of class edge, but I don’t like her recent form.

#3 Weep No More – She pulled off that amazing Ashland upset last year but hasn’t done anything since. The 1 1/4-mile distance will help here, but note that the last time she ran that distance against Songbird, she finished fourth in a weak running of the Grade 1 Alabama.

#6 Hone In – In theory, anyone can hit the board behind Songbird here, but this seems to be the least likely horse to do it. Her recent form leaves a lot to be desired.

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