08/08/2014 12:08AM

Tioga: Daley feeling good about 'Dragon' in EBC Final

Lisa Photo
Delightful Dragon won the Three Diamonds Final at the Meadowlands last year.

If you want to train horses for a living patience is a must.

Noel Daley has been among the elite conditioners in the sport for quite some time. In order to reach that level, he’s had to wait patiently for horses to develop and prosper.

On Sunday afternoon Daley sends out Delightful Dragon, a homebred daughter out of the three-quarter million-dollar winner Little Miss Dragon, who raced for Daley from 2006 to 2008. The filly will be making just her sixth start of the season in the $244,875 Empire Breeders Classic, race seven of 13 on the Tioga Downs program.

“She’s got a better attitude than her mother,” said Daley of Delightful Dragon, a second-place finisher in last week’s trials.

“We lost a lot of time with her earlier this season,” Daley said, “She wasn’t wearing knee boots in a qualifier and hit herself.”

[DRF HARNESS: Watch the EBC Finals and entire Sunday Tioga card LIVE on DRF!]

That little mishap of equipment has delayed the filly, but it hasn’t dimmed the trainer’s outlook for the current and future of the sophomore filly.

“I wouldn’t trade her with any other filly in the division,” Daley said.

Last year there were many luckless trips for the Adam Victor & Son-owned homebred. Fortunately she was able to get the job done in the rich Three Diamonds at the Meadowlands in November and earned $227,329 on the season.

“She had so many bad posts last year, she was due to get a break. She got a great trip in the Three Diamonds,” said Daley.

While Delightful Dragon has been slow to come around this year, she was able to capture a New York Sire Stakes event at Yonkers on July 28 in 1:54 1/5. The victory may have been a sign that things were turning in the right direction for the filly. Also entered in that race was the likely favorite for Sunday’s contest, Major Dancer.

“If they were every going to scratch a horse for being lame they had to scratch her,” said Daley of Major Dancer and how that filly appeared on the racetrack on July 28. “But she can obviously put that behind her. They qualified her (workout) the very next day and then she was impressive last week.”

Major Dancer didn’t look all that much better pre-race last Sunday, but once in flight she was most impressive circling the field and scoring in 1:51 4/5 for trainer Casie Coleman and driver Brian Sears. The pair selected post two for the final with Sears, a winner with both of his elimination mounts, sticking with Major Dancer.

Much like Delightful Dragon, last year’s premier filly Precocious Beauty hasn’t hit top form as of yet, but won for the second time in six starts in last week’s elimination race. She raced without cover and won safely in 1:51 4/5. Precocious Beauty will have Doug McNair in the bike from post three.

Daley suggested that he would expect Delightful Dragon to be a little better this week than she was in her elimination race.

“She showed some temperature the day before the race. We were touch and go whether to race her or not and really didn’t know what to expect. She came out of the race good and I expect her to be better this week,” Daley said.

Hall of Famer David Miller will drive Delightful Dragon from post four.

Not being able to pick a post for the final worked against North America Cup winner J K Endofanera and in favor of Meadowlands Pace champ He’s Watching in the $255,525 Empire Breeders Classic event for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers. J K Endofanera landed post eight for driver Brian Sears while He’s Watching selected post three with Tim Tetrick again in the sulky.

Those two hooked up in last week’s elimination race with He’s Watching wearing down his rival in the stretch after dueling the final quarter. After losing three of his first four races in 2014, He’s Watching, last year’s champion, has captured three straight for trainer David Menary, including a 1:46 4/5 record-setting performance in the Meadowlands Pace.

Like Sears in the Empire Breeders Classic elimination for fillies, driver Tim Tetrick guided both winners in the colt division. Winds Of Change, trained by Linda Toscano, started from the rail last week and chose the pole position again for the final but will lose the services of Tetrick. The 1:50 2/5 effort was the faster of the two elimination races, however He’s Watching’s victory came after the track had turned sloppy.

First post for Sunday’s Tioga Downs program is scheduled for 1:30 pm.


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