05/27/2006 12:00AM

Delaware: Surprisingly tough field


A far tougher group of older horses were entered for the Eight Thirty at Delaware Park than its status as an overnight stakes and relatively small $50,000 purse would seem to dictate.

The 10 runners in the about 1 1/8-mile race, the track's first turf stakes of the season, include T.D. Vance, a Grade 2 winner last season at Saratoga; Tiganello, who came within a whisker of winning a Group 2 race in Europe last summer and is now in the barn of Todd Pletcher; and old-timers Rochester and Dr. Kashnikow, who have combined for 19 turf wins and $1.9 million in earnings.

T.D. Vance was extremely sharp as a 3-year-old in 2005, when he won three consecutive grass stakes, including the Grade 2 Hall of Fame at Saratoga. He has been off the board in his last two starts, however, finishing last of 10 and displaying none of his customary early speed in his lone start this season, the Grade 3 Miami Breeders' Cup Handicap at Calder.

Tiganello, a Group 3 winner in Germany and runner-up by a nose in a Group 2 race in that country last year, finished third of five following a bumping incident in his North American debut six weeks ago at Keeneland.

Rochester, a 10-year-old, usually prefers races longer than nine furlongs, but has been first or second in 8 of 9 starts over Delaware's turf course.

The 1 1/8-mile distance suits Dr. Kashnikow, 9, but he is winless in seven starts since capturing the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger at The Meadowlands in October 2004.