06/23/2012 10:40AM

Delaware Park: A matchup of successful claims

Parent's Honor, a seven-length winner at Delaware in June 2011, is among the contenders in Monday's featured eighth race at six furlongs.

The 4-year-old colt Escort has won four times since trainer Jamie Ness claimed him on behalf of Midwest Thoroughbreds for $10,000 in January. Likewise, 4-year-old gelding Bet the Power has rewarded trainer Kenny Smith and owners Alan Copeland and Ruth Cutley by winning twice and missing a third victory by a head since he was taken for $20,000 in early March.

Escort and Bet the Power, far more valuable now than they were earlier in 2012, look like two of fhe prime contenders among 10 older horses going six furlongs in Monday’s featured eighth race at Delaware Park.

The $40,000 race is open to third-level allowance runners, horses who have not won an allowance or stakes in the past four months, and $50,000 claimers.

Escort, one of five entered for the optional claiming tag, takes a dramatic class rise after crushing $8,000 starter allowance foes and second-level optional $25,000 claimers during a three-race win streak that began in April at Tampa Bay Downs.

Ness, the leading trainer so far this season at Delaware, shows a two-year record of 15 for 34 (44 percent) with last-out winners taking at least a $50,000 increase in claiming price.

Escort is coupled with My Charming Clyde, a 5-year-old who has been first or second in four of his last five starts.

Bet the Power has produced five straight Beyer Speed Figures in the narrow range between 90 and 96. He will be racing at his fourth different track in as many starts after a near-miss against second-level optional $40,000 claimers at Oaklawn Park, a second-level allowance win at Churchill Downs, and a second against third-level optional $40,000 claimers at Parx.

In optional claiming events the past two seasons, Smith is 5 for 17 (29 percent) with horses who finished in the money last time out returning in less than 30 days. That includes a win and 2 seconds in 3 starts by Bet the Power.

The field also includes Parent’s Honor, who romped against straight 3-year-olds for a $50,000 tag at Delaware last June; Ohio sprint champion Sneak a Treat, a winner of 14 lifetime races; and It’s Never to Late, who won back-to-back starts at roughly the same level as Monday’s race last season at Delaware.

Of that trio, the most dangerous may be Parent’s Honor, who makes his second start of the season after closing out his 2011 campaign with three straight Beyers between 88 and 91.