10/18/2009 11:00PM

Delaware River a bounce candidate

Delaware River wins the Smarty Jones Classic last month at 1 1/16 miles.

A month ago in the $125,000 Smarty Jones Classic, the 8-year-old gelding Delaware River roared past early leader Sweet Sugar and rolled to his fifth stakes victory.

But will the same thing happen when Delaware River concedes six pounds to his far younger rival and has to go an extra half-furlong in Saturday's $75,000 Docent Handicap at Philadelphia Park?

The 1 1/8-mile Docent, which goes as race 9, and the $75,000 Cozy Lace for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles, are the co-features on a 10-race card. Both stakes are restricted to Pennsylvania-breds.

Delaware River, a winner of 16 races and $630,612, isn't nearly as consistent as he was earlier in his career. He snapped an 11-race losing streak by winning the Smarty Jones for the third consecutive year. The Beyer Speed Figure of 99 that Delaware River earned was his highest since he recorded a career-best 104 in April 2007.

So it's fair for handicappers to ask themselves whether the big figure will take its toll on Delaware River, much like he regressed following the 96 Beyer he posted for his win in the 2008 Smarty Jones.

Sweet Sugar, a 4-year-old gelding who was running for a $25,000 tag against nonwinners-of-two lifetime as recently as June, may be able to turn the tables on Delaware River in the rematch. He was beaten 8 1/4 lengths when they met last time, but could be sitting on a peak effort now in the third start of his form cycle.

Sweet Sugar is capable at the distance, based on his second-place finish the lone time he tried nine furlongs a year ago at Saratoga.

Xtra Power, a front-runner who wired a short field in a first-level allowance last time out, and Kudu, a deep closer who was beaten less than a length the only previous time he raced 1 1/8 miles, are two other contenders who merit respect.

* Coastal Solace and Miss Blue Tye Dye, who have met three times already this season, will clash again in a five-horse field for the Cozy Lace (race 8).

Coastal Solace has beaten Miss Blue Tye Dye twice since late May, including her win in the most recent start for both horses, the $200,000 PHBA Distaff on Sept. 19. Miss Blue Tye Dye was the 8-5 favorite that day, but wound up last, beaten nearly 17 lengths.