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OZONE PARK, NY – Delaware arrived in the United States with high expectations after displaying group stakes-winning form in France. In his seventh start since coming to North America, the British-bred son of Frankel used a deep-stretch surge to overtake pacesetter Rinaldi in the final 1/16, setting an Aqueduct Racetrack inner turf course record at 1 mile with a 3/4 quarter length score in Saturday’s $100,000 Danger’s Hour.
The sixth running of the Danger’s Hour – the first turf stakes of 2021 on the NYRA circuit – saw Rinaldi break well from the inside post and lead the seven-horse field of 4-year-olds and up through the opening 1/4-mile in 23.67 seconds, the 1/2 in 47.27, and 3/4 in 1:10.27 over firm going.
Delaware, under jockey Manny Franco’s patient ride, saved ground with plenty left approaching the final turn in sixth position. Straightening for home, Franco tipped out his charge, who picked off four challengers easily before honing in on Rinaldi.
Past the 1/16 marker, Delaware displayed an impressive turn of foot from the outside, overtaking his rival and stopping the clock in 1:33.67. That bested Inspector Lynley’s previous course mark of 1:34.13, set on April 7, 2019 in the previous running of the Danger’s Hour.
Delaware, owned by Michael Dubb, Nice Guys Stables and Michael Caruso, was looking to atone for a pair of off-the-board efforts in Florida. The Chad Brown trainee struggled with the Gulfstream Park turf when 10th in the Ft. Lauderdale (G2) to cap his 2020. Making his 5-year-old debut on February 6 at Tampa Bay Downs, Delaware encountered a troubled trip, finishing eighth in the Tampa Bay (G3).
But in his first start at the Big A since running third in the one-mile Artie Schiller in November, Delaware earned his first winner’s circle trip since taking the Shadwell Prix Daphnis (G3) at Deauville in France in August 2019.
“It’s very gratifying. His last couple of starts didn’t go well,” Brown said. “He didn’t care for Gulfstream’s turf very much and then he got a terrible trip down there in Tampa. But I want to thank the ownership group for staying with it. We took him to the track he last ran well at and went back to basics and Manny gave him a great ride.”
Brown said two good efforts at a two-turn mile at the Big A gives him confidence in targeting similar spots.
“I think we found his distance at a mile,” Brown said. “With some nice pace in front of him, it set up good. He was pretty far back turning from home and even though he had a good pace, he had a lot to do. The last quarter was pretty impressive.”
Off at 10/1, Delaware returned $22.20 on a $2 win wager.
“The pace was the key,” said Franco, who was aboard Delaware for the first time. “I rode him with patience and Chad gave me the confidence to do what I want with him, I just tried to follow the right horse the whole way around and by the three-eighths pole he got stuck, and I decided to go wide and that was key.
“He had a nice turn of foot turning for home,” he added. “When I put him in the clear and outside of horses, he took off for me. Chad did a great job with him.”
Rinaldi, owned and trained by H. James Bond, looked sharp off a five-month layoff. The 5-year-old son of Posse’s previous start was a fourth-place Artie Schiller effort, but the winter break on Bond’s Song Hill farm near Saratoga Springs saw a rejuvenated New York-bred, who finished 3 lengths clear of Decorated Invader for second under jockey Trevor McCarthy.
“He ran really good,” McCarthy said. “He was really comfortable and got into a good rhythm. He likes to be nice and clear so leaving the turn I let him open up a little. I let him get comfortable and gave him a nice little breather and at the eighth pole he kicked on. He kicked, but he just got outrun. Not too many horses run a mile in 1:33 and change and get beat.
“He gave us a great effort,” he continued. “That’s how he likes to be ridden and that’s how they want him to be ridden. It was great job by the Bond team having him ready off the bench.”
Penalty, Tiberius Mercurius, Hieronymus, and 6/5 favorite Analyze It completed the order of finish. Price Talk was scratched, as was Main Track Only entrant Zoomer.
Brown, who also trains Analyze It, said he will examine the three-time graded stakes winner after he ran last in his first since an eighth-place effort in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) in October at Keeneland.
“Unfortunately, he seemed to lose a little of his gate speed,” Brown said. “Jose [Ortiz] left with good intent and asked him, but he couldn’t quite make it all the way up to the lead. From there, he had a wide trip but really didn’t finish well, so I’ll have to go to the barn and check him out and regroup with him.”
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