06/26/2013 3:10PM

Prairie Meadows: Delaunay heavy favorite in Iowa Sprint

John Bambury
Delaunay will concede from five to nine pounds in the Iowa Sprint on Friday night.

ALTOONA, Iowa – The Iowa Festival of Racing, six stakes contested on back-to-back evenings with a combined value of more than $1 million, commences on Friday at Prairie Meadows.

Delaunay, the top-ranked sprinter in North America by Daily Racing Form ’s national handicapper Mike Watchmaker, will take on four rivals Friday in the featured $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap at six furlongs. The other Friday stakes are the $100,000 Iowa Distaff and the $100,0000 Saylorville. First post is 6:30 p.m. Central.

Delaunay, a 6-year-old Smoke Glacken gelding, is unraced since cruising to a four-length victory over a sloppy track in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on May 4, He has reeled off six straight stakes wins and is 7 for 8 overall since being claimed by owner Maggi Moss, a resident of Des Moines.

Moss and her trainer, Tom Amoss, opted for this spot over the Grade  2 Smile Sprint at Calder on July 6, even though the Smile has a purse of $350,000 and is a Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

“My enjoyment of racing comes from spending time with my horses,” Moss said, “and I’d rather hang out with them at the barn than even watch them race.

“I’m thrilled that I get to see both [Delaunay] and So Many Ways without having to travel.”

Moss plans to start So Many Ways, winner of the Grade 3 Eight Belles at Churchill Downs in her last start, in Saturday night’s Grade 3, $200,000 Iowa Oaks.

Moss claimed Delaunay for $40,000 on May 12, 2012, and he has been virtually unstoppable since, including a clean sweep of this past season’s trio of sprints for older horses at Fair Grounds. His lone hiccup for Moss was a fourth-place finish in the Senator Robert Byrd Memorial last Aug. 4 at Mountaineer when, as Moss said, he “got caught in a duel through a 43 and change half-mile.”

Prior to Delaunay, Moss successfully turned the claimers Indian Chant and Native Ruler into stakes horses. Moss credits Amoss with Delaunay’s meteoric rise by saying, “Tom does a marvelous job of putting weight on my horses, getting them happy, and keeping them happy.”

Moss is the third leading owner in North America this year by wins and is fourth by purse earnings.

Jockey Rosie Napravnik, third in the nation in wins and fifth in earnings this year, retains the mount on the 3-5 morning-line favorite. Delaunay will carry 122 pounds and concede from five to nine pounds.

Heading the opposition is the lightly raced Gentlemen’s Bet and Jasizzle, who finished second in Churchill’s Grade 3 Aristides on June 3.

Gentlemen’s Bet is 4 for 5 lifetime, including a six-furlong Churchill allowance win in 1:07.90 on May 17 that earned a 107 Beyer Speed Figure. Gentlemen’s Bet is “still progressing,” according to trainer Ron Moquett and the Iowa Sprint Handicap “presents us with a great opportunity to take on the top man in Delaunay.”

Moquett took over the training of Gentlemen’s Bet last summer and the 4-year-old son of Half Ours has since won three of four starts.

“His owner, Harry Rosenblum, allowed me to take all the time I needed to get him ready and it paid off.” Moquett said. “His only loss for us came when he raced along a dead rail in Oaklawn’s Count Fleet.”

Gentlemen’s Bet will be ridden by Robby Albarado.

Jasizzle, who races for owner-trainer Tommy Mills, has good tactical speed. Mills was impressed by Jasizzle’s determination when he finished second by a neck to Scatman in the Aristides.

“I’m proud of this little horse, and he continues to get better,” Mills said.

Jasizzle will ship in from The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Ky.

The last two Iowa Sprints were won by the locally based pair of Ducky Drake and Wiredfortwotwenty. The Tim Martin-trained Credit Report and City Sage, conditioned by Jon Arnett, will try to keep the streak going.

Notably, Credit Report was back to his best on June 13 here when taking an allowance race by a geared down 6 1/2 lengths in 1:09.31.