06/18/2013 11:50AM

Calder notes: Delaunay a good possibility for Smile Sprint

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John Bambury
Delaunay makes it six straight wins with this score under Rosie Napravnik in the Churchill Downs Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day.

MIAMI – There are a lot of very good sprinters stabled on the grounds pointing to the Grade 2 Smile Sprint on July 6, including the reigning sprint champ Trinniberg and two-time Grade 1 winner Jackson Bend.

But the horse to beat, if he comes for the Smile, is based at Churchill Downs – the Tom Amoss-trained Delaunay, who is generally considered to be the top dog in the sprint division. Delaunay is among the early nominees for the Smile, a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and one of two events Amoss has on the radar screen for his speedster, along with the Iowa Sprint Handicap at Prairie Meadows on June 28.

“He’s nominated for the Smile, and it’s certainly a consideration along with the race in Iowa the week before,” Amoss said by phone from Churchill Downs on Tuesday. “He’ll definitely run in one or the other, and the fact the Smile is a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup will obviously factor into our decision.”

Delaunay has won his last six starts, all stakes, with the smallest margin of victory two lengths. He moved to the top of the division with a convincing four-length victory over Pass the Dice in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on May 4. Delaunay was claimed for $40,000 by Amoss for owner Maggie Moss 13 months ago at Churchill.

“He’s doing great; he’s really on his game right now,” Amoss said. “Sprint-type horses go so fast from start to finish they usually develop little issues here and there, but he’s 100 percent. There are a lot of really good sprinters out there, some he hasn’t faced yet, but I think if the Breeders’ Cup was next week he’d be the favorite in the Sprint.”

Amoss is not a total stranger to Calder or the Summit of Speed, having sent Hattiesberg here to win the Grade 3 Azalea in 2001.

“There are all kind of whispers around about how hard it is to ship down there in the summer,” Amoss said. “But I don’t know anything about that.”

Delaunay’s appearance in the Smile would bring another major attraction to Calder for the Summit of Speed, jockey Rosie Napravnik, who has ridden Delaunay to victory in three of his last four starts, including the Churchill Sprint.

“Rosie will definitely be aboard him next time, whether he goes to Iowa or down to Florida for the Smile,” said Amoss.

As of Monday, Delaunay was one of only two horses not stabled locally nominated for the Smile, according to stakes coordinator Sean Perl. The other is Justin Phillip, runner-up earlier this month in the Grade 2 True North Handicap at Belmont Park.

Judy the Beauty confirmed

The Smile will share top billing on the Summit of Speed card with the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap, which also has attracted limited interest from out-of-town connections. Perl did confirm he has received a commitment for the Princess Rooney from trainer Wesley Ward with Judy the Beauty, who has yet to finish worse than second in nine career starts, including runner-up finishes in two Grade 1 stakes.

Nominations for the four graded stakes on the Summit of Speed program close Saturday. Along with the Smile and Princess Rooney, the card also will include a pair of Grade 3 races for 3-year-olds, the Azalea for fillies and the Carry Back.

Backseat Memories in soft spot

Backseat Memories, who won an overnight stakes here in his last start, will return to starter-allowance company in Thursday’s co-featured eighth event. The race is for horses who have either started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2012-13 or who will compete under a $32,000 claiming tag. The race is scheduled to be run at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for a $25,000 purse.

Claimed for $25,000 out of a win at Gulfstream Park in February by trainer Humberto Toledo for owner Elena Arocha, Backseat Memories has captured his last two starts, including the Mambo Meister over a good course on May 12. Backseat Memories, a 3-year-old son of Johar, will face older horses for the first time in Thursday’s finale.

A field of 11 was drawn for the race and includes top contenders El Romano and Isutalkintome, recently fourth in the Memorial Day Handicap who was entered for the main track only.

Steve Reed More than 1 year ago
He wins the Smile and he has a post for the Breeders Cup and this purse is three hundred thousand. they can't beat him.
Alex Martinez More than 1 year ago
Aren't there any G1 sprints coming up that he can do? Seems silly to put him against G2 company. But then again, I don't own a race horse so what do I know.
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
It's a "Win and you're in" - he would automatically qualify for the Breeder's Cup Sprint. Also you get travel money for the BC.
Alex Martinez More than 1 year ago
True, might as well sew up the BC trip. I guess I'm just anxious to see this guy race in a G1.
49ervic More than 1 year ago
Most graded sprint races are G2 with the exception of the Vosbourgh and Acient Title and BC sprint.
Alex Martinez More than 1 year ago
I never realized it but you're right. The Carter is in April and then after that, the Alfred G. Vanderbilt is the next G1 sprint race on the East Coast and that's not until August. Insert foot into mouth!
Matt Cohen More than 1 year ago
Hope he runs in the Smile - was at Churchill when he romped there back in May. Think Jackson Bend will improve off his first start. Trinneberg doesn't look the same this year.