07/14/2016 12:06PM

I'm a Chatterbox looks to give Jones elusive second win in Delaware Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Larry Jones hopes I'm a Chatterbox will give him his second Delaware Handicap win.

Trainer Larry Jones started one horse at the 2005 Delaware Park meet. Her name was Island Sand, and she ran a career-best race to win the Delaware Handicap at 5-1. The next year, Jones sent his full stable to the First State, where he has since won 244 races.

Jones hasn’t won Delaware Park’s richest race since Island Sand but came within a whisker in 2011, when Havre de Grace – the champion older female that year – came out on the wrong end of a photo finish with Blind Luck, with whom she traded decisions during six meetings in 2010 and 2011.

On Saturday, I’m a Chatterbox will be a solid favorite to give Jones his second victory in Delaware Park’s signature race, the Grade 1, $750,000 Del Cap.

“It’s been a while since we won it, so it’s about time we do it again,” Jones said. “It was 2005, and that’s what started all my trips here. Hopefully, we will make amends.”

I’m a Chatterbox capped off a highly successful 3-year-old season with a two-length win in the Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx Racing last September but has started only twice this year. She will have to stretch out to 1 1/4 miles while carrying 121 pounds and conceding four to 11 pounds to her five opponents.

“When you go to the Grade 1’s, you have to be ready,” Jones said. “If I don’t have her ready, it’s my fault. This is her third race off the layoff. I feel good about her.”

I’m a Chatterbox, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Munnings, races for her breeders, Fletcher and Carolyn Gray of Missouri. She began her 4-year-old campaign with a second-place finish as the 1-2 favorite in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare at Keeneland. After shipping to Delaware, she had a physical setback.

“She came out of the Keeneland race well, but then you have to change tracks, and we came here,” Jones said. “She was galloping and twisted an ankle. We didn’t have to do anything medically to it. She just needed a little time. It’s all good now.”

I’m a Chatterbox tuned up for the Delaware Handicap with an 8 1/2-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Obeah Stakes at Delaware on June 11. After some early traffic problems, she stormed to the lead on the far turn and was all by herself for the length of the stretch.

Delaware Handicap, Race 9

Key Contenders

I’m a Chatterbox, by Munnings

Last 3 Beyers: 94-88-88

◗ Gabriel Saez rode her in the Obeah, but Florent Geroux, who was aboard for her previous nine starts, is back up Saturday.

◗ She covered the final three furlongs of the Obeah in a slow 40.34 seconds, with a final eighth in 13.93, which prompted Geroux to call Jones and reassure him.

“Florent said she ran the same way when he won the Silverbulletday on her,” Jones said, “that once she gets way out front like that, she just turns off. He said that’s just her.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 4 I’m a Chatterbox. Trainer Larry Jones is 23-7-3-4 with a $3.03 ROI over the past five years in dirt route Grade 1 stakes races with fillies and mares. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Penwith, by Bernardini

Last 3 Beyers: 75-89-97

◗ She won the Grade 2 Royal Delta at Gulfstream Park in February for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin but subsequently weakened to fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita at Santa Anita and tired to sixth in the Grade 1 La Troienne at Churchill. She has since breezed six times at Darley’s Greentree Training Center near Saratoga and has every right to return to top form in a race where she may be the controlling speed.

◗ She gets in at a comfortable 114 pounds.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 6 Penwith. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is 45-0-3-5 over the past five years in Grade 1 stakes races outside of New York. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

Paid Up Subscriber, by Candy Ride

Last 3 Beyers: 92-88-88

◗ The second-highest weight at 117, she stretched out around two turns for the first time in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs and won by three lengths for trainer Al Stall Jr.

“I’ve got to think her last race will set her up great for the Delaware Handicap,” Stall said. “Her sire is Candy Ride, who won the Pacific Classic, and her broodmare sire, Street Cry, won the Dubai World Cup, so she has the pedigree for a mile and a quarter.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 1 Paid Up Subscriber. Trainer Al Stall is 21-0-3-6 over the past five years in Grade 1 stakes races. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

Mei Ling, by Empire Maker

Last 3 Beyers: 87-79-88

◗ Will be turning back from 1 1/2 miles after finishing second in the Rags to Riches Stakes at Belmont. Todd Pletcher puts her blinkers back on after removing them for her last start.

◗ If Penwith doesn’t take the early lead, she might.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 5 Mei Ling. Trainer Todd Pletcher is 21-2-1-3 with a $0.93 ROI over the past five years adding blinkers in graded stakes races (and 8-0-0-1 in Grade 1 stakes races). Click for more details. Mike Hogan