09/24/2013 1:59PM

Delaware Park: McGaughey has rested Admiral Perry for With Anticipation Stakes

Nikki Sherman Photography
Admiral Perry is winless in six starts this year but was the runner-up in three of those races.

Shug McGaughey seldom ships horses to Delaware Park, and all he has to show for seven starts there since 2010 is a third-place finish in a maiden race earlier this month. The three horses McGaughey has run on Delaware’s turf course have finished sixth, seventh, and ninth.

Nevertheless, there is one potent trainer angle McGaughey has working in his favor that helps to explain why Admiral Perry is the 3-1 morning-line favorite for Thursday’s $50,000 With Anticipation Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile turf race which drew a field of 11 older horses.

Admiral Perry's return following a break of seven weeks is where McGaughey’s positive trainer statistic comes into play. Over the past five years, McGaughey is 6 for 15 (40 percent) with a high $3.51 return on investment with turf horses returning after a break of 31 to 60 days in a non-graded stakes.

Admiral Perry is 0 for 3 in stakes, with his best effort a fourth-place finish where he was beaten just three lengths in the 2012 running of the Grade 3 Oceanport at Monmouth Park. Most recently, Admiral Perry overcame a sluggish start to rally for third in a third-level optional $100,000 claimer at Saratoga.

The logical horse to beat is Utley, a 5-year-old who wheels back quickly after missing by a neck in the $123,000 Franklin-Simpson Mile at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 14. Running stakes horses on short rest is not a strong category for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, whose record with turf runners back in 14 days or fewer in non-graded stakes is 1 for 18. That statistic is somewhat misleading because it is composed almost entirely of horses running two miles or longer in steeplechase events. Sheppard’s record with all turf horses back in 14 days or fewer at distances between one mile and 1 1/2 miles is 3 for 27 (11 percent), with a profitable $3.27 ROI.

Two others who look like serious contenders are Slip and Drive, whose turf record at Delaware is 5 for 10, and the 7-year-old graded stakes-placed Sleepless Knight.

Slip and Drive, beaten just five lengths by Horse of the Year Wise Dan in last fall’s Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile, comes off a sharp win in a 1 1/16-mile allowance Sept. 7. Sleepless Knight’s only win in 16 starts over the past two seasons came in June at Delaware.