Updated on 09/17/2011 11:50AM

Big names attracted to small-purse race


Sunday's Eight Thirty Stakes at Delaware Park carries a modest purse of $55,000. Judging by several of the top-shelf turf runners among the entries for the 1 1/8-mile race, it might easily pass for a graded stakes.

Among the 11 older horses in the surprisingly tough field are Dr. Brendler, a Grade 2 winner at Pimlico and most recently a close third in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap; Political Attack, winner of the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Handicap at Gulfstream; and Rochester, who has been consistently picking up pieces of purses against graded competition.

But just because their names are on the entry list doesn't mean all the big stars will actually show up.

Trainer Graham Motion, for one, admitted that Dr. Brendler, who finished 1 3/4 lengths behind Denon, one of the nation's best turf horses, in the Manhattan at Belmont Park on June 7, is likely to scratch in favor of his stablemate, Better Talk Now. Motion said Dr. Brendler will probably make his next start in the Grade 2, $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont on July 12.

Motion said the Eight Thirty's stock got a boost from trainers anxious to run their turf horses after so many grass races have been washed out by rainy weather throughout most of June.

"It's come up a very solid race for $55,000," Motion said. "At this point, I'd just like to run anywhere. I think everyone's frustrated about not being able to run their turf horses."

The 4-year-old Better Talk Now, who was also entered in Saturday's $50,000 Da Hoss Stakes at Colonial Downs, isn't quite as accomplished as Dr. Brendler. But he has been a useful horse, winning 4 of 8 on the grass. One of those wins came at Gulfstream Park last winter, where he defeated Honor in War, a horse who went on to the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

Political Attack, trained by Michael Matz, has been idle since finishing eighth in the Grade 2 Makers Mark Mile at Keeneland in April. He never got into the flow of the race after stumbling coming out of the gate and bumping into another horse.

Matz has prepped Political Attack for his return with a string of works at Fair Hill.

Rochester is 0 for 4 this season, but comes into this race off one of his best efforts, a second in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs. The 7-year-old Rochester excels over Delaware's turf course, where he has won 5 of 7 starts.