Saturday’s $300,000 Delaware Oaks (G3) has attracted a number of stakes veterans, but the three-year-old filly that might prove especially dangerous is the black-type newcomer Fireline.
A homebred racing for Juddmonte and trained by Chad Brown, Fireline is by the late Arrogate and out of the Grade 2-winning High Ridge Road. A distant fifth in her debut in October, Fireline rebounded quickly the following by beating a maiden field by 13 lengths at Aqueduct. Out of action until May 18, Fireline made a winning return in a one-mile allowance at Belmont, scoring as the odds-on favorite and earning a 95 Brisnet Speed rating.
Trainer Brittany Russell, winning at a 32 percent clip this season, has entered stakes newcomer Cover the Spread and stakes winner Cats Inthe Timber. Though beaten by Cats Inthe Timber and Crypto Mama in a pair of Laurel allowances over the winter, Cover the Spread made noticeable improvement stretching out around two turns to win a Pimlico allowance by five lengths on May 14.
“We ran her the one turn mile at Laurel three times mostly because that was the only opportunity offered, but we had been dying to run her two turns,” Russell said. “When we took her to Pimlico, she handled the two turns exactly the way we thought she would. She ran a really big race that day. She is a really good work horse and training filly. It might be a question for her to step up and run against a little better competition, but she has trained and raced so well, it justifies taking this shot.”
Cats Inthe Timber won the Weber City Miss S. at Laurel in April and then finished sixth in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2). Also exiting the latter race is Balpool, who captured the off-the-turf Memories of Silver S. from three rivals at Aqueduct two back.
Promiseher America is among the most accomplished in the field of 10, having upset the April 8 Gazelle (G3) at Aqueduct by a half-length at 26-1. The daughter of American Pharoah moved on to the Kentucky Oaks (G1), but trailed the field of 14 after a rough passage racing into the clubhouse turn.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Miracle fared better against eventual Kentucky Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous earlier this season, finishing second to that rival in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) by three parts of a length. However, Miracle was a non-threatening fifth in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) in her next start and was recently second in the Bouwerie S. for New York-breds last time.
The supporting feature on Delaware Park‘s Saturday card is the $250,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial (G3) for fillies and mares at 1 3/8 miles on the turf. Leading contenders include Miss Yearwood, Sopran Basilea, and Viareggio.