07/16/2015 1:16PM

Frivolous, Sheer Drama meet again in Delaware Handicap

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Frivolous scored at 32-1 in the Fleur de Lis in June.

Frivolous has been full of surprises lately.

After going 2 for 16 to begin her career, Frivolous has upset a pair of Grade 2 stakes at long odds in her last four starts. On Saturday, she might have the best early speed in the Grade 1, $750,000 Delaware Handicap, the high point of the summer season at Delaware Park.

There are three supporting stakes on the card, including the Grade 3, $200,000 Kent, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds. There also are two $50,000 stakes – the six-furlong Hockessin and the mile-and-70-yard Carl Hanford Memorial. The entire card will be streamed live on DRF.com.

Frivolous won the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis last month at 32-1. She concluded her 2014 season by winning the Grade 2 Falls City at 19-1. In those Churchill Downs races, she pressed or tracked the pace and took the lead nearing the stretch.

Victoria Oliver trains Frivolous for her father, G. Watts Humphrey, who bred and owns the 5-year-old Empire Maker mare.

“Like a lot of the Empire Makers, I think she’s gotten better with age, that she’s been better at 4 and 5 than at 3,” Oliver said. “She’s a big filly and real strong. I’ve always thought the world of her. She’s a big-striding filly.”

Many of the entrants in the 1 1/4-mile Del Cap are late runners. Oliver isn’t committing Frivolous for the lead, but she should not be far back from post 1. Jon Court will be aboard.

“Jon will see where he is when he leaves the gate,” Oliver said. “I’m just going to tell him to break and hold his position. If nobody sends, she may be on the lead. If someone sends, she may not.”

Sheer Drama, who finished second in the Fleur de Lis as the 17-10 chalk, has tactical speed and is the likely favorite.

“If we both think we have the other to beat, you don’t want to end up going head to head and setting it up for someone else,” Oliver said.

Sheer Drama, a 5-year-old trained by David Fawkes, won the Grade 2 Royal Delta at Gulfstream Park in March by 6 1/2 lengths. She has finished second in four of her last five starts, including the Fleur de Lis, the Grade 1 La Troienne, and the Grade 3 Rampart. She has a career record of 17-4-8-1.

“We have been wanting to run this filly a little farther,” Fawkes said. “She has a high cruising speed. I wish she would have more wins than seconds, but it is what it is. She is very consistent, and she always gives you what she can.”

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Key contenders

Frivolous (Last 3 Beyers: 96-59-78)

Three of her four wins have come at Churchill, but Oliver said she is not a one-track horse.

“She’s never shown she can’t handle a surface,” Oliver said. “She’s run on dirt, Polytrack, and turf and has handled all three.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 1 Frivolous. Trainer Victoria Oliver is 54-3-5-12 with a $0.60 ROI over the past five years with last-out winners; 13-0-1-1 with last-out winners on dirt. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Sheer Drama (Last 3 Beyers: 94-93-99)

In the Fleur de Lis, she carried 120 pounds and gave Frivolous four pounds. On Saturday, they are co-highweights at 118.

Joint Return (Last 3 Beyers: 82-87-73)

Trained by John Servis, she lagged far back early in the Grade 3 Obeah and finished well for second. Kendrick Carmouche rides.

“We were actually using the Obeah as an experiment,” Servis said. “In her last few, I felt like she made a big move and did not sustain the rally. So, we asked Kendrick to sit just a little longer, and she was certainly running at the end.”

In her lone try at 1 1/4 miles, she finished second to Stopchargingmaria in last year’s Alabama.

:: Delaware: Get PPs, watch Saturday’s card live

Rosalind (Last 3 Beyers: 88-89-85)

This will be her second dirt start following five straight grass races. She was entered in last week’s Robert Dick Memorial at 1 3/8 miles on turf but was scratched in favor of this spot.

She is owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, and partners, who won last year’s Del Cap with Belle Gallantey. Bethlehem Stables is based in Pennsylvania, about 90 miles from Delaware Park.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 6 Rosalind. Trainer Chad Brown is 35-1-3-3 with a $0.14 ROI over the past five years in Grade 1 stakes on dirt and winless in his last 32 starts. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

America (Last 3 Beyers: 87-76-88)

She hopped in the air at the start of the Fleur de Lis, dropped far back, then made a nice middle move on the far turn and into the stretch. Her fifth-place effort is better than it looks on paper.

Fortune Pearl (Last 3 Beyers: 79-72-84)

She won the Delaware Oaks last year and should like the 1 1/4-mile distance.

Flashy American (Last 3 Beyers: 82-83-94)

She has been narrowly beaten in two of her last three starts – the Iowa Distaff and the Grade 3 Bayakoa at Oaklawn Park.