February 26, 2024

Idiomatic faces five in shortened Delaware Handicap

Idiomatic wins the 2023 Shawnee (G3)/Coady Photography

The venerable Delaware H. (G2) was shortened from 1 1/4 miles to 1 3/16 miles this year, but there was no corresponding increase in field size for the $500,000 event scheduled for Saturday at Delaware Park. Fields of seven or less have been the norm over the past three editions of the Del ‘Cap, and six fillies and mares’ names were dropped in the entry box for this year’s renewal.

Idiomatic, a Juddmonte homebred trained by Brad Cox, looks like the one to beat. A four-year-old daughter of Curlin, Idiomatic has won five of seven starts and has been beaten only once around two turns, in an allowance last December when returning from a seven-month layoff.

Idiomatic kicked off her stakes career taking the Latonia S. over the Turfway synthetic by two lengths in late March. Cutting back to one turn in the Ruffian (G2) at Belmont, Idiomatic proved no threat to Pass the Champagne, finishing second to that rival by 5 1/2 lengths, but rebounded last time with a wire-to-wire score in the 1 1/16-mile Shawnee (G3) at Churchill Downs. Already a winner up to 1 1/4 miles, Idiomatic will be ridden by Florent Geroux.

Todd Pletcher, who is tied with fellow Hall of Famer trainers Henry S. Clark and Bill Mott for most wins in the Del ‘Cap with four, will look to become sole possessor of the honor with Classy Edition. The daughter of Classic Empire has won the Royal Delta (G3) and Critical Eye S. for New York-breds in two of her last three starts, with a poor run in the La Troienne (G1) sandwiched in between. Classy Edition was bumped in the first turn of that Churchill and ultimately trailed the field of 10.

Battle Bling finished a distant second in last year’s Del ‘Cap contested over a sloppy track and later won the Turnback the Alarm H. (G3), though her form in three interim starts was more modest. Grade 1-placed stakes winner Morning Matcha missed by a nose in the local prep, the Obeah S., for trainer Butch Reid, who saddled Foggy Night to an upset victory in the Delaware Oaks (G3) last weekend.

Royal Take Charge, a winner in three of her first four starts, will make her stakes debut in the Del ‘Cap following a 6 3/4-length allowance win at Churchill going nine furlongs, while Gamestonks appears in over her head.