10/23/2010 12:08PM

Stick with the hot hand, not the past class


Although there are three horses in the lineup with a combined 12 stakes victories to their credit, the most dangerous runner in Monday’s eighth race at Delaware Park is Cavallo Pazzo, a 7-year-old who has made a steady living running mostly for a claiming tag or in starter allowances the past two seasons.

Cavallo Pazzo is a horse for the course, with 6 wins and 2 seconds in 8 starts over Delaware’s main track. His 7-for-17 record over the past two seasons, including a 3 3/4-length score over similar company two starts ago as the 4-5 favorite, makes Cavallo Pazzo an imposing figure Monday in a five-furlong optional $35,000 claiming sprint that is also open to horses who haven’t won an allowance race this season.

Cavallo Pazzo, trained by Tony Dutrow, gets in without having to run for a tag because he was in for a $35,000 claiming price in a second-level optional claiming win Aug. 19 and he doesn’t have a 2010 allowance win. Most of his success the past two seasons has come in starter allowances that he qualified for by running for a $12,500 tag in 2009.

In addition, Cavallo Pazzo, who made his last start on Sept. 11, usually runs well fresh. He is 3 for 3 returning from a break of 31 to 60 days, part of a 15-for-29 hit rate in that category for Dutrow at Delaware since the start of the 2009 season.

The back-class candidates facing Cavallo Pazzo are Piratesonthelake, whose three stakes wins include the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Sprint in 2007; Sok Sok, a three-time stakes winner at Fair Grounds between 2007 and 2009; and Legal Move, who racked up six stakes victories on turf and Polytrack at Woodbine between September 2006 and September 2008.

Of that trio, Piratesonthelake, a 6-year-old trained by Scott Lake, shows the best recent form. In two of his last three starts, Piratesonthelake has been in front in midstretch, including a 2 1/2-length win while running for a $75,000 tag in an optional claimer at Delaware and a runner-up finish in the $75,000 Dale Baird Memorial at Mountaineer.

Sok Sok, based in Kentucky with Steve Asmussen, is just 1 for 11 over the past two seasons, but showed signs of life when he rallied from far back to be second in the West Virginia Chairman’s Cup at Mountaineer two starts ago.

Legal Move returns to dirt, where he is 0 for 4 lifetime, after three straight dull races on turf.