03/11/2013 3:17PM

Fair Grounds: Red-hot Delaunay to get shot at graded stakes

Lynn Roberts/Hodges Photography
Delaunay won the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes on Saturday for his fifth straight victory.

Six-year-old Delaunay has run in 10 claiming races and zero graded stakes, and six months ago, only serious followers of the Midwest or Mid-Atlantic racing circuits would even have known his name. But in appearance, on the clock, and in the view of speed-figure makers, Delaunay is one of the best horses in the country at the moment.

On Saturday, he turned in his latest tour de force, a 4 1/2-length pasting of Grade 1-winning sprinter Gantry in the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes at Fair Grounds. Delaunay’s six-furlong time of 1:08.36 on a track that wasn’t playing especially fast was by far the quickest clocking at the meet, and the fastest three-quarters of a mile run at Fair Grounds since Mountain General went in 1:08.03 to win the Thanksgiving Handicap in 2002.

The raw time produced a Beyer Speed Figure of 111, which matches up neatly with the 110 that came out of Delaunay’s 4 1/4-length victory over Gantry in the Gaudin Memorial. Delaunay has won five races in a row – he’s 6 for 7 since owner Maggi Moss and trainer Tom Amoss claimed him for $40,000 last May – and has started to look like the real deal. Those Beyer Figures are the fourth and fifth highest of 2013, behind only Game On Dude and Ron the Greek.

“He’s so easy to work with,” Amoss said. “He’s so sound. His coat is so bright; he’s the kind of horse that just stands out. He’s good right now. The idea is to keep him good.”

Barring misfortune, Delaunay’s next race is likely to mark his graded-stakes debut. Delaunay’s first win for Amoss and Moss came at seven furlongs, but Amoss believes that at this point, Delaunay is best suited to six-furlong races.

With that in mind, Amoss said the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 13 is a possible next stop for Delaunay. His participation there, however, will depend on Delaunay’s weight assignment, Amoss said. Delaunay carried 121 pounds in his only handicap start, the Nov. 22 Thanksgiving Handicap.