05/10/2013 12:01PM

Woodbine: Delegation stands out in Eclipse Stakes after prep win

Tom Keyser
Delegation, shown working out last fall, comes into the Grade 2 Eclipse off a victory in an allowance three weeks ago that was worth a 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Delegation, who blew away a quality field in the allowance prep for the Grade 2 Eclipse Stakes three weeks ago, should be tough to beat in Sunday’s $200,000 Eclipse, a 1 1/16-mile route at Woodbine.

Delegation missed out on Canadian champion 3-year-old honors last year to Queen’s Plate winner Strait of Dover in a fairly tight Sovereign Award vote. He defeated older opposition in the Grade 3 Durham Cup and finished third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.

Delegation’s only poor performance was a distant eighth in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope on Jan. 13 at Gulfstream. Trainer Mark Casse said Delegation had an excuse then, so he gave him a break and then ran him in the Eclipse prep after an allowance at Keeneland failed to fill.

“He bled really bad, so we brought him home and gave him some time,” Casse said. “We took our time bringing him back. I was expecting a big race out of him, and he ran well.”

Delegation led all the way over a speed-conducive track in the 1 1/16-mile prep, scoring by 3 1/2 lengths under Gary Boulanger. He just missed the Polytrack record and received a co-career-high 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

Casse said Delegation acts as well as any horse he has ever trained, and that Boulanger is a good fit for the son of champion sprinter Speightstown.

“He’s a funny horse,” Casse said. “When you ride him, you have to let him get into his stride. He’s got as pretty a stride as any horse I’ve ever seen. Gary actually gets along with him. He breezed him all winter at OBS.”

The former Casse runner James Street rallied inside for second in the prep, in his first outing in nearly three months, earning a career-best 98 Beyer in the process.

Last year, James Street took the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes and the allowance prep for the Durham Cup. He was a non-threatening third in the Durham Cup.

Patrick Husbands will ride the 6-year-old James Street for trainer Josie Carroll.

Don Cavallo made a splendid pre-race appearance in the prep, in which he wound up fourth following yet another layoff. He is winless since his score in the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes in 2011, but might be rounding into form after missing most of 2012. Blinkers are added.

Alpha Bettor won his first stakes at 23-1 last August in the Grade 3 Seagram Cup, in which he beat City Wolf and James Street. This will be his first start since a fourth in the Nov. 10 Autumn.

Completing the field is Perfect Afleet, who was fourth in a recent third-level allowance on the grass at Keeneland.