A clean start today could go a long way to helping Delaunay start another winning streak.
The 6-year-old gelding had a six-race winning streak halted in his last start after a solid bump with Credit Report just out of the gate. Delaunay will attempt to return to the winner’s circle in the Grade I $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt for horses 3 and older over six furlongs on the main track.
His last start was in the Iowa Sprint, where Gentlemen’s Bet held him off by 1 3⁄4 lengths. Despite the bump in that race, Credit Report set the early fraction in 21.75. The bump affected Delaunay a bit more.
“This is a race where he got left [behind by] about six or seven lengths, and he made up that ground very, very quickly in the race,” Delaunay trainer Tom Amoss said. “And that was into the teeth of a very fast pace. Looking at the way that pace breaks down in the Iowa Sprint, add another second and that’s how fast Delaunay would go a quarter. It just didn’t work. It was just a disaster from the start. He actually ran a pretty courageous race for what he had to do early in the race.”
Delaunay is today’s 8-5 morning-line favorite and will break from post position 3. Gentlemen’s Bet, a 4-year-old colt who has won five times in six career starts, is the 9-5 second choice and in the 2 spot, just inside his top rival. The third choice, 7-2 Bahamian Squall, will be on the rail.
“Delaunay is a great horse, and like any athlete, they can have better days,” Gentlemen’s Bet trainer Ron Moquett said.
“Delaunay is going to run a great race. We’re looking at it like they are all going to run their ‘A’ game. We’ll see how we stack up against them. We respect them, but at the same time, we look forward to the opportunity. These are sprinters, and they are going to run six furlongs. They’re the fastest horses around, so you better bring your ‘A’ game. You know nobody is coming to Saratoga for the Vanderbilt if they don’t think they can win. These are the fastest horses in the United States, and we want to state our case.”
Delaunay shipped into Saratoga after a bullet work in his final breeze at Churchill Downs, a 474⁄5 over four furlongs, the fastest of 49 at that distance at the track on June 21. In his first workout at Saratoga, though, he went four furlongs in 521⁄5, the 30th fastest of 34. He rebounded, though, to go four in 48 flat in his final published work for the Vanderbilt on July 27.
“The first week we got here, it was very hot, and my horses, as a whole, had a very bad week with the heat,” Amoss said. “That particular day, the works of that day, not just mine, were really slow out there. It’s a track that can be a little bit quirky in that it can pick up some characteristics that won’t be there the next day. But yes, he worked well the second time around. You’re always concerned; is it a track he’s going to like. But in all fairness, he’s always done well, no matter what track he’s run at.”
Outside of the top three choices, Justin Phillip is 5-1 in the 4 spot and Caixa Eletronica, who won an optional claimer here July 27, is in the 5 post at 10-1.
“This is how I see it: No. 1, Gentlemen’s Bet is a very good horse, and we’re going to have to improve to beat him,” Amoss said. “I think we got a real favorable draw. I see the main speed just inside of us. My horse is very tactical, so I look for us to be in a position outside those two inside horses, kind of deciding what to do based on how fast or how slow they go.”