01/24/2013 4:45PM

Fair Grounds: Delaunay, Gantry continue rivalry in F.W. Gaudin

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Delaunay has beaten Gantry by at least two lengths in the two races they met, but the difference between the two sprinters probably is not that great.

In the Temperance Hill Stakes in September at Louisiana Downs, Delaunay stole off to an easy lead while setting a dawdling pace, and Gantry never had a chance to run him down. In the Thanksgiving Handicap on opening day of the ongoing Fair Grounds meet, Gantry was running back 19 days after contesting the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and might not have been at his very best when Delaunay handed him another decisive defeat.

Another possibility is that Delaunay simply is the superior horse, and more will be known when Delaunay and Gantry hook up again in the $75,000 F.W. Gaudin Handicap on Saturday at Fair Grounds. There are five others in the race, but a victory by any of them would be surprising.

Delaunay, claimed for $40,000 last May by Maggi Moss and Tom Amoss, is working on a three-race winning streak, sandwiching a victory in the Bet on Sunshine at Churchill in November between his wins over Gantry in Louisiana. Delaunay’s trio of stakes scores all have produced triple-digit Beyer Speed figures, and he appears to be a horse who has substantively improved in the last six months or so.

“It’s safe to say this horse has gotten good – his most recent races reflect that – but the challenge is for us to keep him good,” Amoss said. “He acts like that’s happening in the mornings.”

Delaunay drew the rail for the six-furlong Gaudin, a reversal from the Thanksgiving, where he broke outside Gantry. Hollywood Hit and Hamiltonian have early speed, and it’s possible Delaunay’s trip turns slightly tricky because of his draw.

“I’d prefer not to be on the rail, but he has very good tactical speed,” Amoss said.

Gantry, who counted the Gaudin among his three Fair Grounds stakes wins during the 2011-12 racing season, has gotten a nice freshening between starts, unlike in the Thanksgiving, where he was back on short rest.

“He’s training good,” trainer Ron Faucheux said. “He doesn’t have bad days. He’s always a good-feeling horse. Knowing the way he is, he should get back to that better form with the little bit of time between races. I think it’s going to be a dogfight this time.”

Hollywood Hit failed to carry his best synthetic form to turf last month in the Bonapaw; On dirt, he was won 2 of 6 starts. Laurie’s Rocket won an allowance race at Oaklawn on Jan. 17, but Delaunay trounced him in November.