06/30/2014 10:39AM

Delaware Oaks has proven strong Alabama prep

Barbara D. Livingston
Blind Luck wins the 2010 Alabama Stakes as part of a championship campaign that also included a win in the Delaware Oaks.

The next two weekends are the highlight of the Delaware Park season. This Saturday is the Grade 2, $300,000 Delaware Oaks and July 12 is the Grade 1, $750,000 Delaware Handicap. The Delaware Handicap is expected to attract Princess of Sylmar, one of the leading older females in training.

The Delaware Oaks dates back to 1938. In recent years, the 1 1/16-mile race has established itself as an important prep for the 1 1/4-mile Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.

Between 2003 and 2010, four Delaware Oaks winners went on to win the Alabama.

“The thing we have going for us is the timing of the race,” said Jed Doro, who is in his first year as the racing secretary at Delaware Park. “The Oaks is far enough away from the Black-Eyed Susan and Kentucky Oaks and far enough ahead of the Alabama.”

The recent Delaware Oaks/Alabama winners are:

* Blind Luck (2010): Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Blind Luck defeated Havre de Grace in both races. She won the Oaks by a nose and the Alabama by a neck. Blind Luck was voted champion 3-year-old filly of 2010. Havre de Grace would come back in 2011 to be named Horse of the Year.

* Careless Jewel (2009): Romped in both the Oaks and Alabama for trainer Josie Carroll, winning by 7 1/2 lengths and 11 lengths, respectively. In her only season of racing, Careless Jewel won 5 of 7 starts and more than $1 million.

* Proud Spell (2008): The champion filly of 2008 for trainer Larry Jones and owner Rick Porter, she won the Fair Grounds Oaks, Kentucky Oaks, Delaware Oaks, and Alabama that season.

[Delaware Oaks: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

* Island Fashion (2003): After failing in the Kentucky Oaks, she won the Delaware Oaks and Alabama by big margins for trainer Nick Canani, with Awesome Humor finishing second each time.

* In addition to the four recent Delaware Oaks-Alabama winners, R Lady Joy won the Oaks in 2005 and finished third in the Alabama, and Allamerican Bertie won the 2002 Oaks and finished second in that year’s Alabama.

* The Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama will be run at Saratoga on Aug. 18.