08/27/2013 1:03PM

Delaware Park: Saintly Love aims for seventh straight win in Nick Shuk Memorial

Coady Photography
Saintly Love, perfect in six races this year, will make his first start for trainer Howard Wolfendale in Thursday's $50,000 Nick Shuk Stakes.

Saintly Love is 6 for 6 this year on turf, and he will try to extend his streak while making his first start for new connections and stepping up in class for Thursday’s $50,000 Nick Shuk Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park.

At 7 1/2 furlongs on turf, the Shuk drew a competitive field that includes the Jonathan Sheppard-trained Utley, idle since winning his lone start this year during Keeneland’s spring meet; Change of Command, the winner of the one-mile Elkwood Stakes at Monmouth Park in July; and Slip and Drive, who was beaten just five lengths by Horse of the Year Wise Dan when third in last fall’s Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile.

The 5-year-old Saintly Love changed hands when trainer Howard Wolfendale put in a $50,000 claim on behalf of Robert Cole Jr. on Aug. 4 at Monmouth Park. During his streak, Saintly Love has raced at Tampa Bay Downs, Pimlico, Colonial Downs, and Monmouth.

Most recently, Saintly Love got up by a head while going a mile. Among the horses he beat that day were Glass Art, a six-time winner on turf, and Humble and Hungry, a Grade 3 winner who was second in the Grade 2 Dixie in 2012.

Utley will be seeking his third straight win after closing out his 2012 campaign last September with a victory at Laurel Park and upsetting nine opponents at 10-1 in a one-mile allowance at Keeneland in April. The last time he came off a similar layoff, Utley won a one-mile allowance at Delaware in June 2012.

After winning the Elkwood, Change of Command regressed when stepping up in class for the Grade 3 Oceanport. Two of the runners from the Oceanport, Howe Great and Tune Me In, returned to run second and third in the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger Stakes last Sunday.

Slip and Drive has been no worse than second in 7 of 9 starts on Delaware’s turf. In the best of his two races this year, Slip and Drive was a close second in a 7 1/2-furlong stakes at Canterbury Park.