Delightful Diva dominates in Chester distaff
from Harrah's Chester publicity department
Although last year's Breeders Crown and American-National winner Yellow Diamond kicked off her four-year-old campaign this afternoon, it was Delightful Diva ($11.20) who earned top billing in Thursday ( July 8 ) afternoon's $28,000 Mares Open Pace at Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack.
With Yellow Diamond (Tim Tetrick) taken back from the pace, Delightful Diva made the front with relative ease, but she wouldn't be able to control the pace as easily. After a :27.1 initial quarter, the five-year-old Bettor's Delight mare was pushed on by Don't Deny Me (David Miller), who emerged first-over from midfield. As a result, the second quarter was faster than the first--they covered the first half mile in :54.1--and the pace continued to be demanding through a 1:22.0 three-quarter split.
All the while Don't Deny Me was prompting the pace, Yellow Diamond tracked from second-over, moving three-wide on the far turn but lacking of any kick at all. With the main perceived threat a non-factor, Delightful Diva began to pull away at head-stretch, extending her margin of victory to three lengths over the pocket-sitting Chinatown K (Andy Miller), stopping the timer in 1:50.2. Don't Deny Me faded to third.
Lou Peña trains Delightful Diva for owner Lloyd Arnold.
Ron Burke talks Ben Franklin
Although Shark Gesture has garnered much of the attention in Sunday's Ben Franklin eliminations, trainer Ron Burke is looking to make quite a bit of noise with his three entrants in the race. Foiled Again and Won the West both drew into the second elimination, which will be contested as race 12 on the Sunday program.
“I think that’s the toughest division," noted Burke. "My biggest worry there is getting both of mine qualified from that division. Trip’s going to play a huge role in that division, especially concerning who makes the final and who does not.”
Foiled Again recently took his second George Morton Levy title at Yonkers, and comes in off a third-place effort in the Battle of Lake Erie. “He got a very rough trip, but he seems to bounce back," commented Burke. "As far as health goes, he’s been in excellent shape. It’s all about getting him in the right spot. Chester’s his favourite track. He really races well here and he likes it.”
Likewise, Won the West comes in from the Battle of Lake Erie, taking runner-up honours behind Hypnotic Blue Chip. “He comes in off a little bit of a disappointing performance in the Dan Patch at Hoosier, but he was better in the Battle. He raced from the back; he had his pace back.”
Joining Foiled Again and Won the West in the second elimination are Dial or Nodial, Vintage Master, Dali, and Keep It Real.
Burke sends Atochia into the first elimination (race 9), where he will square off against division leader Shark Gesture. And though Atochia doesn't have the renown as Foiled Again and Won the West, Burke remains high on his chances. “He might not be as good a horse as the other two, but I certainly think he’ll make the final. He’ll follow anyone no matter how fast they’re going.” Mr Wiggles, Hypnotic Blue Chip, Three of Spades, and Annieswesterncard complete the first elimination.
The $500,000 final will be held on Sunday, July 18.
(photo of Delightful Diva courtesy World Wide Racing Photos)