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Delta Bluesman Strikes Right Chord in Smile Sprint

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL — Monster Racing Stable’s Delta Bluesman ($5.00) displayed incredible gameness in the $250,000 Smile Sprint (G2) at Gulfstream Park, turning back a challenge on the turn before drawing off to a 3 3/4-length success.

He covered the six-furlong distance in a sparkling 1:08.94. The 6-year-old had once been described as a one-dimensional speedster, but had shown steady improvement in recent months since switching from the grass to main track races.

“Getting him off the turf has been key,” winning trainer Jorge Navarro said. “I keep knocking myself in the head; I wasn’t patient enough.”

Drawn on the inside in the Smile, Delta Bluesman broke running under jockey Emisael Jaramillo and immediately began to duel with Chief Lion. The two gray geldings smoked through an opening quarter of :21.70, but Chief Lion looked to be going the better of the two on the turn for a half-mile split of :43.80. Jaramillo got to work aboard Delta Bluesman on the inside, and the son of Wagon Limit took over once more and pulled away in the final furlong. Limousine Liberal closed belatedly to take second from the tiring Chief Lion.

“The pace was violent,” Jaramillo offered. “I just rode my horse. The other horse (Chief Lion) came to me and opened up a half length, but my horse came back when I asked him. He never gave up.”

Navarro admitted to being surprised that Delta Bluesman was up to the challenge.

“Yes, because he can be a chicken,” Navarro said. “I was amazed that he dug in like that. When (Chief Lion) came up, I thought, ‘Jaramillo, what are you doing?’ Because he doesn’t like horses coming next to him. But maybe he is changing, coming around, and becoming the horse that we thought he was in the morning. He trains like a good horse. He worked (a half) :46 last week and the exercise rider said he did it like nothing.”

Delta Bluesman turned around a series of disappointing turf outings with a front-running win in a six-furlong allowance on the Gulfstream main track on April 13. He then went wire-to-wire in the Decathlon Stakes at Monmouth on May 14, but was disqualified and placed fifth. He put mirrored that style in his latest at the Jersey Shore oval, a June 11 optional claimer, and was 3-2 to pull off a similar maneuver in the Smile Sprint. The victory assured the 6-year-old a fees-paid berth in the $1.5-million Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita in November, and Navarro indicated that the championship event was a consideration for his charge.

“This was his fourth start in two months so I’m going to take my time with him,” Navarro said. “The owner’s dream is to go to the Breeders’ Cup, so that’s why we came here. I wasn’t sure if we would win and I told him, ‘Just being in the race is a pleasure. And if he wins it, then hey, I’ll make your dreams come true.’ I’m going to give him 50-60 days and then find one or two races before the Breeders’ Cup.”

Bred in Florida by Denis A. Dwyer, Delta Bluesman is a son of Wagon Limit from the Darn That Alarm mare Smoke Alarm. His career record now stands at 43-9-10-7 with a bankroll of $433,937.

Eighty Three, More Applause, Copingaway and Stormy Inti completed the order of finish in the Smile Sprint.

$250,000 Smile Sprint (G2) Quotes

Trainer Jorge Navarro (Delta Bluesman): (Concerned when headed?) “Yes, because he can be a chicken. I was amazed that he dug in like that. When (Chief Lion) came up, I thought, ‘Jaramillo, what are you doing?’ Because he doesn’t like horses coming next to him. But maybe he is changing, coming around, and becoming the horse that we thought he was in the morning. He trains like a good horse. He worked (a half) :46 last week and the exercise rider said he did it like nothing.

“Getting him off the turf has been key. I keep knocking myself in the head; I wasn’t patient enough.

“This was his fourth start in two months so I’m going to take my time with him. The owner’s dream is to go to the Breeders’ Cup, so that’s why we came here. I wasn’t sure if we would win and I told him, ‘Just being in the race is a pleasure. And if he wins it, then, hey, I’ll make your dreams come true.’ I’m going to give him 50-60 days and then find one or two races before the Breeders’ Cup.”

Jockey Emisael Jaramillo (Delta Bluesman): “The pace was violent. I just rode my horse. The other horse [Chief Lion] came to me and opened up a half length, but my horse came back when I asked him. He never gave up.”

Gulfstream Park

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