07/10/2014 2:57PM

Winning Image fires fresh in Sweet and Sassy Stakes on Del Cap undercard

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Winning Image, the winner of the Primonetta Stakes, returns Saturday from an eight-week layoff for the Sweet and Sassy Stakes on the Delaware Handicap undercard at Delaware Park.

The Delaware Handicap undercard has three stakes, the best of which is the $100,000 Sweet and Sassy, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares that drew a field of nine.

The other undercard stakes are the $50,000 Fort Delaware for male sprinters and the $50,000 Cape Henlopen, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up. A pick four links the four stakes, or if you can’t see past Princess of Sylmar in the Delaware Handicap, there is a pick three on the undercard stakes. Both bets have a 50-cent minimum.

There are some familiar rivals in the Sweet and Sassy. Galiana beat Ms. Cruisen’ in the $58,000 Dashing Beauty Stakes at Delaware on June 26; Lion D N A won the $100,000 Skipat Stakes at Pimlico on May 16, defeating Winning Image; and Winning Image won the $100,000 Primonetta Stakes at Pimlico on April 19. She’s Ordained was beaten in all three of those races, though not badly.

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Trainer Michael Aro knows the 7-year-old Winning Image well, and she has won off layoffs several times for him in the past. Winning Image comes into this race off an eight-week break and a bullet 47-second workout June 30 at Parx. The work tab accessed with DRF Formulator shows that the work was more than a second faster than the other 14 at the distance that day.

Lion D N A, trained by Rudy Rodriguez, is sure to be bet well in this race but must rebound from a 10th-place finish in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses Handicap at Belmont Park. Her Skipat win also came over a sloppy track.

There are two newcomers to the group, both of whom will be making their stakes debut. Gentle Officer won two straight before finishing third in a second-level optional claimer last out. The 6 1/2-length winner of that race, Lady Sabelia, returned to win the $71,000 Red Cross Stakes at Monmouth Park, and the runner-up, Hot Fun, who finished a neck ahead of Gentle Officer, came back to win a second-level optional claimer at Pimlico. The fourth-place finisher, whom Gentle Officer beat by 2 3/4 lengths, also won her next start.

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Interest Free is 4 for 9 and out of conditions for trainer Neil Howard, who ships her in from Kentucky. Interest Free earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure – which fits nicely with this field – in her last race, a high-level optional claimer at Indiana Grand.

** In race 6, the Fort Delaware, Royal Currier and King Henry, the one-two finishers in the $50,000 Hockessin Stakes, will meet again.

** In the eighth, the Cape Henlopen drew a well-matched field of 12. Bellarmine, trained by Ken McPeek, will be dropping out of the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows, while Holiday Star looks like he will enjoy the 1 1/2-mile distance.