06/09/2012 12:12PM

Delaware Park: Ward's juveniles stand out based on Beyers


Six 2-year-old fillies, all coming off maiden victories out of town, will square off in Monday’s fifth race at Delaware Park, a 4 1/2-furlong sprint open to nonwinners of two lifetime or $62,500 claimers.

Based on Beyer Speed Figures, trainer Wesley Ward has by far the two fastest fillies in the field with his uncoupled pair of Sweet Shirley Mae and Walkin in a Shadow.

Although Sweet Shirley Mae prepared for her career debut with four workouts on Keeneland’s Polytrack and a half-mile breeze on turf, she shipped to New York for a five-furlong race on dirt. Racing over a sloppy, sealed strip at Belmont Park, Sweet Shirley Mae was hard ridden by John Velazquez to score by 1 1/2 lengths as the odds-on favorite in a field of five. She was awarded a 73 Beyer, but perhaps more significantly, the runner-up, Bern Identity, returned to win next time out on June 1 with an 86 Beyer.

Ward’s other entrant, Walkin in a Shadow, debuted for a $20,000 claiming tag at Churchill Downs and dominated her six opponents. Her four-length win was worth a 69 Beyer.

Statistically, 2-year-olds who win first time out for Ward aren’t very successful in their second career race. Ward is just 2 for his last 10 in that category. He is 3 for 19 the last five years shipping into Delaware.

Walkin in a Shadow and Case Cracker, who was transferred to Monmouth Park-based trainer Steve DiMauro after winning her career debut on the Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields, are the only two horses entered for the optional claiming price. Case Cracker set a track record for two furlongs at Golden Gate by covering the distance in 21.20 seconds. Since coming east, she has had just one slow workout on dirt, a half-mile in 49 seconds at Monmouth.

John Salzman Jr. brings in Brenda’s Way from Maryland, where she won first time out by nearly eight lengths. But the Beyer came back a modest 42. Two of the fillies who finished far behind Brenda’s Way that day, Stormy Adventure and Take the Train, came back to win their next starts and both are in Monday’s field.

Stormy Adventure, who improved 31 points on the Beyer scale with the addition of blinkers, is intriguing from a pedigree standpoint. She is a half-sister to Headsandtales, a two-time winner of the Find Handicap, although that was a turf route, not a dirt sprint.