09/09/2010 11:46AM

Delaware River targets four-peat in Classic

Alyssa Kwiatech/Equi-Photo
Delaware River will be seeking his fourth straight Classic victory on Saturday at Parx Racing.

The remarkable 9-year-old gelding Delaware River is among four returning champions set to defend their titles during Saturday’s Pennsylvania Breeders Day program at Parx Racing.

In addition to Delaware River, who is looking to capture the 1 1/16-mile Classic for Pennsylvania-bred males for the fourth consecutive year, Coastal Solace in the featured $150,000 PHBA Distaff, Always for Love in the Mrs. Penny, and El Churruca in the Mr. Jenney Handicap are looking to repeat their success from last year.

Although Delaware River is a long-time fixture in the $100,000 Classic (race 6), formerly known as the Smarty Jones Classic, he comes into this year’s race after changing hands. Brad Cox, winning at 31 percent in his first season as a regular at Delaware Park, shelled out $40,000 to claim Delaware River on May 26. The old-timer failed to fire in his first start for his new connections a month later and will be making his first start following a 2 1/2-month break.

Based on his performances in this race each of the past three years, it’s difficult to knock Delaware River in this spot. He came into last year’s race following two off-the-board efforts on the turf, but rebounded to win easily by 3 1/2 lengths with a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. He won by 8 3/4 lengths with a 96 Beyer in 2008 and scored by 2 1/2 lengths with a 98 Beyer in the 2007 running.

His keenest competition among six rivals may come from the 3-year-old Goldigger’s Boy, who returns to the statebred ranks after leading wire to wire against open maiden special weight company last time out, and the 4-year-old Tejanos Eliminator, who would benefit if the track comes up wet. Tejanos Eliminator turned in powerful performances worth 89 and 98 on the Beyer scale the last two times he caught wet tracks locally.

◗ The 5-year-old Coastal Solace gets to carry seven pounds less in the Distaff (race 9) than she did when she toted 124 pounds to a one-length score when the race was contested at seven furlongs last year. She is quite capable at the new distance of 1 1/16 miles, however, with 3 wins and 2 seconds in 7 starts.

Her six rivals include Miss Blue Tye Dye, a six-time stakes winner who defeated Coastal Solace by 11 3/4 lengths in the 2009 Ligature Stakes going 1 1/16 miles at Penn National; stretch-out sprinters Jemilyn and Love Ridge; plus Holdontoyourdream, who was third in the Grade 2 Comely in April 2009 but has not raced since May 2009.

◗ Always for Love dominated the $100,000 Mrs. Penny in 2009 when it was contested at 1 1/16 miles on turf, but she will have to adjust to the shortened distance of five furlongs for this year’s running (race 7). Early in her career, the 6-year-old Always for Love was a good turf sprinter, winning her maiden and clearing her first two allowance conditions locally, but in her only turf sprint the past two years she was never competitive in The Very One at Pimlico last May.

The best proven turf sprinter in the field of nine is the 3-year-old Look At Me Dance, who is 3 for 4 at the distance, including two wins versus open company.

◗ El Churruca was much the best winning last year’s $100,000 Mr. Jenney by three lengths, but he has raced only once since then and will be making his first appearance since October in this year’s five-furlong turf sprint (race 8). The best recent grass form belongs to Ricky’s Life, a 4-year-old who is 3 for 3 sprinting on turf.