09/07/2013 4:08PM

Delaware: Are You Kidding Me comes close to course record in Kent

Are You Kidding Me, allowed to set soft early fractions under Rajiv Maragh, scores a four-length victory in the Grade 3 Kent for 3-year-olds.

A change of tactics by new rider Rajiv Maragh helped Are You Kidding Me win for the first time in more than a year Saturday at Delaware Park.

Unlike two of his last three starts, in which Are You Kidding Me was placed far back, Maragh sent the 3-year-old Woodbine-based colt to the front through slow early fractions of 25.20 and 48.69 seconds in the Grade 3, $200,000 Kent Stakes. Going slow early left Are You Kidding Me ($4.80) with plenty of energy for the stretch drive and he drew clear to win easily by four lengths while just missing the turf course record for 1 1/8 miles.

The Roger Attfield-trained Are You Kidding Me completed the distance in 1:47.61, just .34 of a second off the record of 1:47.27 set by Optimizer in last year’s Kent. It was the first win for Are You Kidding Me since a seven-furlong allowance at Woodbine in August 2012.  He is now 3 for 13 lifetime with earnings of $301,689.

“He broke really willing, he got comfortable on the lead, and he had a lot left at the finish," Maragh said.  "He broke on the lead and nobody really challenged him. I figured if he is going to be on lead and he was comfortable, I was going to take advantage of it. 

"When I got to the three-eighths pole and I asked to him to go, he really took off.  At that point, I knew they were  really going to have to finish strong to catch us.”

In his previous start, Are You Kidding Me futilely chased Five Iron from second place throughout the 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup. Five Iron came back last weekend to win the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga.

In a reversal of the photo finish for first place in the Aug. 17 Restoration at Monmouth Park, Michael With Us beat out Hard Enough for second by a head.