07/14/2010 6:38PM

Delaware Handicap strong, compact


A millionaire filly who barely missed beating colts in two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, a two-time graded stakes winner in New York, and a rags-to-riches mare who went from clearing her first allowance condition to Grade 1 winner during a seven-month span head a small but intriguing lineup for Saturday’s Delaware Handicap.

The Woodbine-based Milwaukee Appeal, along with New York standouts Funny Moon and Life at Ten, are clearly the three prime contenders among a field of six fillies and mares who will contest the Grade 2, $750,000 Delaware Handicap.

The 73rd running of Delaware Park’s most prestigious stakes tops a card that includes two other stakes: the Grade 3, $150,000 Robert Dick Memorial for fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on turf, and the $10,000 R.R.M. Carpenter Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race on the main track.

For the third consecutive year, the Delaware Handicap has been designated as a Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, with the winner automatically qualifying for the Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

Last season, Milwaukee Appeal lost by a neck in the Queen’s Plate and came up a nose shy in the Prince of Wales, two legs of the Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds. A 4-year-old filly trained by Scott Fairlie, Milwaukee Appeal is 0 for 3 on dirt, including a distant second as the favorite in last summer’s Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga.

As a 3-year-old last year, the Christophe Clement-trained Funny Moon won the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at the same 10-furlong distance as the Del Cap. This year, she captured the Grade 2 Shuvee going a one-turn mile at Belmont Park.

Life at Ten has put together a five-race winning streak that culminated with a wire-to-wire score in last month’s Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont. This will be her first race beyond 1 1/8 miles. Her trainer, Todd Pletcher, is seeking to win the Del Cap for a fourth time, which would tie the record held by Hall of Fame trainer Henry Clark. Pletcher has won Del Cap with Unbridled Belle in 2007, Fleet Indian in 2006, and Irving’s Baby in 2001.

Florida shipper Miss Singhsix, who won the Grade 3 Obeah, the local prep for the Del Cap last month, is the strongest contender beyond the three logical favorites. The field is rounded out by a pair of longshots, Miss Match, who was a distant fourth behind Miss Singsix in the Obeah, and Million Seller, who cleared her second allowance condition last month at Monmouth Park.