03/19/2015 10:16AM

House Rules is sentimental choice in Royal Delta

Barbara D. Livingston
House Rules wins the Grade 3 Rampart Stakes last out on Feb. 21 at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – This is one of those rare times when sentiment surpasses all. House Rules will be the favorite Saturday in the $200,000 Royal Delta, not only on the Gulfstream Park tote board but in the hearts of thousands of fans and fellow horsemen pulling for her trainer, Jimmy Jerkens.

Jerkens is the son of Allen Jerkens, the legendary trainer who died Wednesday at age 85. A victory by House Rules surely would evoke an outpouring of emotion, given the timing and circumstances surrounding this race.

House Rules, who was graded stakes-placed twice while trained by Allen Jerkens during the first half of 2014, has won four of her six starts since being turned over to Jimmy Jerkens. Her latest triumph came in the Grade 3 Rampart here Feb. 21, when she surged from just off the pace to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths over Sheer Drama while also surviving a lengthy inquiry into a midstretch incident that bordered on interference.

Leading jockey Javier Castellano has the mount back aboard House Rules, who will break from post 6 when stretching out slightly around two turns in the 1 1/16-mile Royal Delta, the last of two Grade 2 races for older fillies and mares here Saturday.

The Royal Delta, named for the champion older female of 2012 and 2013, was known as the Sabin Handicap from 1991 to 2014 before being renamed for this year.

Post time for the Royal Delta, the 10th of 12 Saturday races, is 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

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House Rules (Last 3 Beyers: 96-91-64)

◗ The runner-up in both the Grade 2 Davona Dale and Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks here last year for “The Chief,” this 4-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor sure has learned how to win, especially when she finds the right set of opponents. She figures to settle in midpack once again before bidding into the fray.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 6 House Rules. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens is 17-5-2-2 with a $5.02 ROI over the past five years in dirt route graded stakes with last-out winners. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Sheer Drama (Last 3 Beyers: 93-88-66)

◗ This Harold Queen homebred outran her 22-1 odds in the Rampart, where she forced all the action and was momentarily checked by jockey Joe Bravo near the eighth pole. She continued gamely to outnod Wedding Toast for the place in what clearly was one of the better efforts of her 14-race career.

Molly Morgan (Last 3 Beyers: 92-91-86)

◗ This 6-year-old, who came to hand for Dale Romans last year by earning more than $500,000, is returning from a layoff of nearly four months when sporting a steady series of workouts at the Palm Meadows training center. “I think we’ve got her ready for another big year,” said Romans.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 7 Molly Morgan. Trainer Dale Romans is 30-3-3-8 with a $1.94 ROI over the past five years in dirt routes following a layoff of 120 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

:: DRF Live: Watch live handicapping analysis of Saturday’s biggest races, starting at 2:00 p.m. Eastern

Tiz Windy (Last 3 Beyers: 90-91-91)

◗ Winner of the Grade 2 Indiana Oaks last fall, this filly from the connections of Street Sense also shows a nice string of works at Palm Meadows when embarking on what trainer Carl Nafzger hopes is another very productive season.

Flores Island (Last 3 Beyers: 85-78-46)

◗ One of two 5-year-old mares in here for Marty Wolfson (with Swinger’s Party), she will be tested for class when coming off a heady runner-up effort in a non-graded stakes last month at Laurel Park.