09/29/2005 11:00PM

Delaware 'certified' horses run for extra cash

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EQUI-PHOTOS
Presidentialaffair (right) is expected to defend his title in the Maryland Million Classic.

Owners who brought their yearlings to Delaware two or three years ago will begin to reap the rewards of an incentive-based program Sunday when the first two stakes for "Delaware certified" Thoroughbreds are run at Delaware Park.

Nine colts and geldings and seven fillies - all of them ages 3 or 4 - will compete in a pair of $50,000 stakes at six furlongs.

In order to become Delaware certified, a horse must spend 90 consecutive days on a farm in the state before turning 2. The program pays an extra 15 percent of the purse share for the first-, second-, and third-place finishers in overnight and stakes races, up to a maximum bonus of $5,000 in a stakes.

"I am very optimistic about this program," said Bessie Gruwell, a former trainer who is now the executive director of the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen Association. "It helps bring horses into the state who otherwise would have never been here, which is very important for the horse racing industry in Delaware."

According to Gruwell, next year there will be approximately $1 million in bonus money available for the program. As word spreads, interest is growing among owners of young horses.

"Just in the last few weeks, we have had probably 50 applications come through," Gruwell said. "We just had about 30 applications from people who bought horses at the Keeneland sale this year. We are talking about hundred-thousand-dollar horses that are now coming to Delaware that otherwise would not have been here."

The leading contenders in the Distaff, which goes as race 7, are True Gold and Ebony Star.

True Gold, a 4-year-old trained by Mike Gorham, easily cleared her second allowance condition at Delaware in June and has since run second twice in high-priced optional claimers.

The 3-year-old Ebony Star, from John Zimmerman's barn, has won 3 of her last 5 starts, including a wire-to-wire score against second-level allowance sprinters last time out.

The certified race for colts and geldings (race 8) appears wide open. The leading contenders include Harley's Road, a three-time winner against claimers at the meet; Scary Bob, a Delaware-based horse who easily won an allowance at Finger Lakes in the spring and most recently finished third to the extremely sharp Top Shoter in a New York-bred stakes; and Red Magic, a 3-year-old who stepped up to beat older horses in a first-level allowance at Philadelphia Park in early September.

Maryland Million pre-entries set

Five winners from a year ago, led by Presidentialaffair and Silmaril, are among 145 horses, all the offspring of Maryland stallions, pre-entered in the 12 races for next Saturday's Maryland Million at Laurel Park.

Purses and awards on this year's program have soared to $1.5 million, a national record for sire stakes.

The $250,000 Classic field is expected to include 2004 winner Presidentialaffair and runner-up Aggadan, a multiple stakes winner.

Multiple stakes winner Silmaril figures to be a standout in the $150,000 Distaff. She won the Maryland Million Oaks a year ago and has won three stakes races this year, including a huge upset over Ashado in the Grade 3 Pimlico Distaff in May.

Other returning champions from 2004 are My Poker Player in the Sprint, Dr. Detroit in the Turf, and Namequest in the Turf Sprint.

Other notables expected to run include Cherokee's Boy, a three-time stakes winner this summer who is nominated to both the Classic and the $150,000 Sprint; La Reine's Terms, the winner of the 2002 Turf; and multiple stakes winners Crossing Point, Ameri Brilliance, and Saay Mi Name, all nominated to the Sprint.

Post positions will be drawn on Wednesday.

Three Klesarises win on same card

For the first time, trainer Peter Klesaris and both of his sons, trainers Robert and Steve Klesaris, all won a race on the same program last Monday at Delaware.

"That was something," said Steve Klesaris, who won with Stormin Anna in a $16,000 claiming race. "There have been an awful lot of days where we have all have had losers, so it is a neat that we finally had a day where we all had at least one winner."

Robert Klesaris won the first race with $5,000 claimer JoJo Marie and Peter Klesaris saddled Secret Look to win an $8,000 claiming route in race 9.

Loosends impressive in debut

Trainer Anthony Dutrow doesn't win too frequently with 2-year-old first-time starters. But last Sunday he sent out Loosends for her career debut and she responded by a winning a one-mile maiden race at Delaware Park by 6 1/2 lengths. She was awarded a modest 55 Beyer Speed Figure.

Dutrow, while cautioning the filly has much to prove, is enthused about Loosends's potential, especially at longer distances.

"She is by a promising young well-bred stallion in Broken Vow," Dutrow said. "Broken Vow, being by Unbridled out of a Nijinsky mare, just offers a whole lot of hope. The pedigrees we deal with nowadays are biased toward speed. The Unbridled line is a great factor in horses getting a distance of ground. I'm just looking forward to seeing what she can do."

Dutrow plans to look for a two-turn allowance race for Loosends in about a month.