06/09/2011 10:49AM

Delaware Park: Havre de Grace may have threats

Barbara D. Livingston
Multiple graded stakes winner Havre de Grace will tune up for next month's $750,000 Delaware Handicap in Saturday's Obeah.

One filly with a perfect record in four starts over Delaware Park’s main track and another who projects as the lone speed in a small field pose potential problems for odds-on favorite Havre de Grace in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Obeah Stakes.

Handicappers looking for a viable alternative to 123-pound highweight Havre de Grace – whose string of five straight triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures dating back to last August includes a win in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in her most recent start – can choose between horse-for-the-course Tiz Miz Sue and the rapidly improving front-runner Sarah’s Song.

The three logical contenders, along with the longshots Reprieve and Sweet N Sour Nina, hope to use the 1 1/8-mile Obeah as a springboard to the Grade 2, $750,000 Delaware Handicap on July 16.

The 4-year-old Tiz Miz Sue is 1 for 12 in her career away from Delaware Park, but 4 for 4 locally after coming from off the pace to win last month’s 1 1/16-mile Winter Melody overnight stakes. Trainer Steve Hobby said he would have preferred to get one more good race into Tiz Miz Blue before taking on one of the older female division’s heavy hitters.

“I hate to hook a Grade 1 filly in a Grade 3 race,” Hobby said. “I was hoping to stay away from Havre de Grace until the Delaware Handicap, but hopefully we will run well in this race and come back for the big one in July. My girl likes this track, so I might as well take on Havre de Grace here.”

Sarah’s Song, trained by Mac Robertson, began 2011 as a 4-year-old maiden. But after winning a maiden special weight sprint at Oaklawn Park and finishing third in her first start against winners in another sprint with modest Beyer Figures of 69 each time, Sarah’s Song improved dramatically when stretched out around two turns. She romped by 11 lengths going a mile at Oaklawn and paired up her 93 Beyer while second behind Tiz Miz Sue in the Winter Melody.

Robertson said he feels Sarah’s Song may be tighter for her second start of the meet.

“After Oaklawn, I gave her a little break, and I may have run her a little short the other day,” said Robertson, referring to Sarah’s Song fading in the final furlong of the Winter Melody. “When you run them a little short and when they go a little too fast, they will tire. She is fit now, and if they want to go with her on Saturday, she is fit.”

Of course, if Havre de Grace runs her usual race, the rest will be battling for second money. Havre de Grace brings a 5-for-10 record, including three graded stakes victories, into Saturday’s race.

Although idle since mid-April, Havre de Grace appears sharp after posting a pair of five-furlong bullet works locally, highlighted by a 57.40-second breeze on Monday. Trainer Larry Jones said everything is falling into place for his filly’s prime summer objective, the 1 1/4-mile Delaware Handicap.

“We want to make sure we have her at her very best for that,” Jones said. “The Obeah is the logical spot to get her ready for that. She is coming into this race the way we want her. We are expecting for her to run her race.”

Disco Dandy breaks turf sprint record

Disco Dandy, a 7-year-old gelding ridden by Gabriel Saez for trainer Mary Eppler, set a course record for five furlongs on the turf at Delaware Park last Saturday.

Competing in a second-level optional $40,000 claimer, Disco Dandy covered the five furlongs over a firm course in 55.66 seconds, earning a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, and won by  three lengths.

The previous record was held by Beer Stien, who was timed  in 55.84 in 2005.