05/22/2010 12:00AM

Bon Marie an elder streaker


Few 9-year-old racehorses are even still running, let alone capable of maintaining their peak form for an extended period of time. Yet the turf specialist Bon Marie has not only defied Father Time, but continues to win up and down the East Coast.

Bon Marie, who has put together a seven-race winning streak at five different tracks, goes for his eighth consecutive victory in Monday's ninth race at Delaware Park. He's part of a 14-horse field, including one also-eligible and another entered for the main track, in a 7 1/2-furlong turf race for $25,000 claimers.

Trained by Tony Dutrow, Bon Marie has won 15 of 54 starts and $374,944 in a career that began at Woodbine in July 2003. He began his seven-race winning streak last June 24 at Delaware Park in a mile-and-70-yard starter allowance. He followed with another victory at Delaware before winning a race at Belmont Park, two at Aqueduct, and two at Gulfstream Park. In his most recent outing, Bon Marie scored by 2 3/4 lengths going 1 1/16 miles in $10,000 starter allowance at Gulfstream on Feb. 18.

"Heart, determination, and courage are the reasons he has been so consistent," said Dutrow. "He is old, and he has multiple nagging physical problems that come with being a little older, but what he lacks in youth and physical ability, he makes up for by having a strong constitution. Horses like him are the true backbone of horse racing, but at the same time it is extremely unusual for horses like him to be so consistent."

Cristiano, a Group 1 winner in his native Peru last fall, seeks his first North American victory in Monday's featured sixth race, a conditioned allowance scheduled for 7 1/2 furlongs on turf,

As a 3-year-old last year, Cristiano won 3 of 4 starts, including the Group 1 Peruvian 2000 Guineas by 7 3/4 lengths. His three victories came by a combined margin of 27 3/4 lengths.

In his first start in the United States, Cristiano flashed speed and faded to last of seven in the Grade 3 Skip Away at Gulfstream Park. He is being switched to the turf by his new trainer, Michael Matz.

"I just need to find a race for him," Matz said. "I put him in this race because we are trying to find a spot for him before we hopefully do bigger and better things."

One possibility, Matz said, is the $50,000 Joseph French, an overnight stakes at a mile and 70 yards on dirt on May 29.

Cristiano will be facing Dr Large, a colt who last year won the $75,000 Capital City at Penn National. He will be making his first start since finishing third in the Grade 3 Kent at Delaware last Sept. 5.