09/28/2013 12:41PM

Delaware Park: Chamois, Cerro to vie for favoritism in Stanton Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Cerro will switch to turf for Monday's Stanton Stakes at Delaware Park.

How handicappers perceive a pair of fourth-place finishes, one by Chamois in a minor stakes last month at Monmouth Park and the other by Cerro in a Grade 3 event five months ago at Keeneland, will probably determine which colt goes favored in Monday’s $50,000 Stanton Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf.

Chamois adds blinkers and cuts back from 1 1/8 miles to 1 1/16 miles after he was at the back of a four-horse photo for first in the Restoration on Aug. 17.

Cerro hasn’t raced on grass yet this season, but he was competitive on Polytrack – which oftens translate well to turf form – this past spring when he was beaten only 1 1/4 lengths in the Grade 3 Lexington.

On the plus side for Chamois, he is graded stakes placed after finishing third in the Grade 3 Hill Prince in June. Most recently, he was beaten by just a neck as the 2-1 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Restoration. Trainer Christophe Clement will be adding blinkers to Chamois’s equipment for the first time, a move that has produced 2-for-10 success (20 percent) the past five years with all runners returning after a break of 31 to 60 days.

Two of the horses who finished ahead of Chamois in the Restoration – Michael With Us and Hard Enough – returned to finish within a head of each other as the two-three finishers in the Grade 3 Kent earlier this month.

Cerro, trained by Rick Mettee for Team Valor International, will be returning to turf for the first time since last December. His only grass win came in his career debut in Italy in June 2012.

Two of the horses who finished ahead of Cerro in the Lexington have done well in subsequent starts. Winning Cause most recently finished second in the Grade 3 Ontario Derby on Sept. 15. General Election came out of the Lexington to win the Grade 3 Arlington Classic.

The seven-horse Stanton field also includes Fredericksburg, who returned from a five-month layoff to win a first-level optional $15,000 claimer two weeks ago, and Heat Press, who has been idle since making his turf debut on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico. Although he finished far back in his lone turf race, Heat Press is intriguing because his trainer, Graham Motion, is 6 for 25 (24 percent) with a high $3.38 return on investment with turf runners returning from an absence of 61 to 180 days in a non-graded stakes.