05/31/2012 2:12PM

Delaware Park: Federation has edge in Rooney Memorial

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Federation, who has picked up minor pieces of the purse in back-to-back Grade 3 stakes this season, appears to hold a class advantage over her eight opponents in Saturday’s first non-overnight stakes of the season at Delaware Park, the $75,000 John Rooney Memorial for fillies and mares.

The 4-year-old Federation, an English import now based at Belmont Park with trainer Christophe Clement, began her United States career with three starts last winter at Tampa Bay Downs, where she won back-to-back races and then finished second, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, in the Grade 3 HIllsborough.

In a change of tactics from his first three American starts, in which she stalked, Federation was sent to the front over yielding ground at Belmont Park in the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 5 and gave way in deep stretch to finish fourth.

The Beyer Speed Figures of 93 and 94 that Federation earned for her two wins at Tampa are easily the best recent grass figures earned by any of her foes in the 1 1/16-mile Rooney.

The 5-year-old Martita Sangrita, beaten 3 3/4 lengths by Federation in the Hillsborough, seems to be rounding into the good form of her 3-year-old season, in which she won an overnight stakes at Delaware and was second by a nose in a similar event at Belmont Park. Winless in four starts this year after missing all of last season, Martita Sangrita showed signs of life finishing second, earning an 87 Beyer, in a third-level optional $80,000 claimer at Gulfstream Park in March. Most recently, she was ninth of 10 following a wide trip in the one-mile Dahila at Pimlico.

Master Shade, who began her career in Italy, is 4 for 8 lifetime on turf. She rallied from last to finish third, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, in the Dahlia, nearly a dozen lengths in front of Martita Sangrita.

She Be Classy won last year’s Rooney when it was moved to the main track, but she was far back in seventh and 11th in her two most recent performances on turf.

Thundering Emilia, second in thje 2011 Rooney, drops into an easier spot after three consecutive sixth-place finishes against Grade 3 company.