01/03/2015 6:29PM

Delaunay turns tables on Heitai in Bonapaw Stakes

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Hodges Photography/Lynn Roberts
Delaunay, under James Graham, runs down pacesetter Heitai in the off-the-turf Bonapaw.

Last spring, when Heitai got the jump on Delaunay in the Duncan Kenner Stakes at Fair Grounds, it was lights out. Delaunay never could catch Heitai and finished second by five lengths. But in the 10 months since, either Heitai has gotten a little worse or Delaunay, now 8, is a little better, because Saturday at Fair Grounds it was Delaunay up in the final strides of the $60,000 Bonapaw Stakes to beat Heitai by a neck.

The Bonapaw was carded for turf but was rained onto dirt. Delaunay ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.34 and paid $3.80 to win as the favorite. Bet Seattle finished another 3 1/4 lengths back in third. Gantry and El Seventyseven were scratched.

Heitai broke one stall outside Delaunay but outquicked him to the lead, crossing over to the rail within the first furlong. Delaunay and James Graham tracked on the outside, keeping Bet Seattle bottled up behind the lead pair through fractions of 22.12 and 45.24 seconds. At the top of the stretch, Heitai wasn’t stopping and Delaunay wasn’t gaining, but by the eighth pole, Delaunay was eating into the lead. 

“The last four or five jumps, he was like, ‘Oh yeah, we can do this,’ ” Graham said.

That determination was visible to onlookers. Delaunay had his ears up, racing attentively, digging down to try and catch his rival. He did not look like a one-dimensional speed horse, though Delaunay typically is the chased, not the chaser.  

“I think the world of him,” said Tom Amoss, who trains Delaunay for owner Maggi Moss. “Delaunay rarely wins his races running someone down at the end of a race. We took him out of his game a little.”

Delaunay, a gelding by Smoke Glacken, won for the 18th time in 47 starts. He has earned more than $1 million, most of it since Moss and Amoss claimed him for $40,000 in May 2012.