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St. John's River seeks first stakes victory in Delaware Oaks

ST. JOHN'S RIVER (Include) has recorded three consecutive runner-up finishes since breaking her maiden in January, including close seconds in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), and the promising lass will have the opportunity to garner her first stakes victory when lining up for Saturday's $300,000 Delaware Oaks (G3). She tops a field of seven three-year-old fillies in the 1 1/16-mile test, which shares the spotlight at Delaware Park with the $200,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial S. (G3) and $100,000 Barbaro S.

St. John's River got off to a tardy start in the Kentucky Oaks last out and raced far off the pace before finding her best stride in the stretch at Churchill Downs, closing with a rush to miss by only neck behind Plum Pretty (Medaglia d'Oro). The bay filly also delivered a fast finish in her previous outing, a half-length second in the Fair Grounds Oaks, and she's never been off the board in five career starts (1-3-1) for trainer Andrew Leggio Jr. St. John's River is a candidate for further improvement off those strong performances and won't face a deep group of rivals on Saturday. Rosie Napravnik will retain the mount on the likely heavy favorite.

ALL FOR THEE (Elusive Quality) is the top threat. A 6 1/2-length maiden winner at Oaklawn Park three starts back, the Tony Dutrow-trained filly recorded a four-length score over entry-level allowance rivals before netting her first stakes win with a two-length tally in the Go for Wand S., both at Delaware Park. She'll make her graded stakes debut in fine form and will keep Jeremy Rose in the irons. STRIKE THE MOON (Malibu Moon) exits a couple of solid efforts versus stakes foes, finishing second in both the Jostle and Miss Preakness, and the Michael Trombetta trainee will make her first start around two turns on Saturday. She could show speed from her rail post with regular rider Julian Pimentel.

DANCE QUIETLY (A.P. Indy), a minor stakes winner over the Aqueduct inner oval this winter for Todd Pletcher, will look to improve upon a third as the favorite in the May 21 Pike Creek S. She was beaten that afternoon by SNOW FALL (War Front), who will enter the Delaware Oaks off a fifth in the Acorn S. (G1) over a muddy track at Belmont Park. Juvenile stakes winner SOUNDWAVE (Friends Lake) will make her third start of the season for Barclay Tagg following a second in the Classy Mirage S. and a third in the Miss Royal S., both six-furlong stakes at Belmont Park, and Go for Wand runner-up DARING REALITY (Include) completes the field.

A full field of 12 older fillies and mares will contest the Robert G. Dick Memorial at 1 3/8 miles on the turf, and DYNA WALTZ (GB) (Dynaformer) will draw support following a pair of seconds in the All Along S. (G3) and Gallorette H. (G3). Napravnik will guide the four-year-old for Jonathon Sheppard. CHEETAH (GB) (Tiger Hill) is another top contender. The Christophe Clement pupil captured her U.S. bow two starts back and exits a troubled third in the Sheepshead Bay (G2).

BUBBLY JANE (Brz) (Yagli), who has been transferred to Pletcher, will make her first start since a third in the 2010 Sheepshead Bay, and HONIMIERE (Ire) (Fasliyev), who has posted a couple of decent thirds this year, also merits consideration in her third start stateside for conditioner Roger Attfield.

The Barbaro will feature a field of 12 three-year-olds at a mile and 70 yards on the main track, and RUSH NOW (Tiznow) is a probable favorite off his 4 1/4-length romp in the May 22 Spend a Buck S. at Monmouth Park. Trained by Dutrow, the bay colt is two for two at Delaware Park, breaking his maiden and winning the Dover S. by a combined 17 1/2 lengths last year. His main rivals include ALL OF THE ABOVE (Iron Deputy), J W BLUE (Sky Mesa) and WILL'S WILDCAT (Eurosilver).


 


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