Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Delaware Oaks has drawn a field of eight sophomore fillies, but for the second year in a row the 1 1/16-mile contest lacks a stand-out star. The only one who comes close is Vero Amore, who just missed by a neck in the Black-Eyed Susan before tiring to a well-beaten 12th when cutting back to a mile most recently in the Acorn.
The Robert Reid Jr. trainee will attempt to earn her first black-type success, and first win on the year, in Saturday's Delaware Oaks. Vero Amore placed in both the Ruthless and Busher to open 2014, but the Mineshaft filly was unable to carry that forward into the Gazelle two races later. The dark bay miss was fourth, beaten 10 ½ lengths, that day before rebounding for her Black-Eyed Susan effort. Jockey Frankie Pennington was aboard for her last two and retains the mount.
Fortune Pearl made her stakes bow in the Black-Eyed Susan and finished a decent third for trainer Graham Motion. The dark bay daughter of Mineshaft has been stabled at Delaware since early June getting a feel for the track thanks to four works, and keeps Trevor McCarthy aboard in her second stakes attempt.
DELWARE OAKS DRAW
Joint Return is the 120-pound highweight for the Delaware Oaks, conceding four pounds to all her rivals. The Include filly enters the race off a nice win going a mile over the track in the Our Mims, and also boasts scores in the Busher and Calder Oaks from earlier in the season. The John Servis pupil has traded decisions with Vero Amore, beating her in the Busher but finishing behind that one when fourth in the Black-Eyed Susan. Regular rider Kendrick Carmouche will be in the irons as Joint Return tries to go one up on her rival.
Honey's Ryan might be overlooked shipping in from Thistledown, but the Ken Marshall-trained filly could make some noise under Kerwin Clark. The dark bay Student Council filly is riding a three-race win streak that began when breaking her maiden by seven lengths for trainer Scott Young last September at Remington Park. She followed up with a six-length romp in the E. L. Gaylord Memorial at that track in her juvenile finale, and reappeared to take an allowance at Thistledown by 3 ½ lengths under Marshall's tutelage on May 28.
Also entered in Saturday's Delaware Oaks are Image of Anna, who led throughout the Our Mims before just being caught by Joint Return on the wire, and turf stakes winner Aibhilin, fourth in the Jersey Girl at Belmont Park when making her sophomore debut last out on May 26. Pixie Dust and Lady Paradime complete the field.
Earlier on Delaware Park's Saturday card, 13 turf distaffers will line up in the Grade 3, $200,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial. Aigue Marine will try for her first stakes win stateside with Carmouche in the saddle for trainer Christophe Clement in the about 1 ⅜-mile contest.
The five-year-old daughter of Galileo captured her second U.S. start in 2013 but her best efforts since came when second in February 15 The Very One and April 24 Bewitch. A listed winner in France, Aigue Marine appears to enjoy this distance.
Auld Alliance has the ability and back class to be a threat in this spot. The Motion charge scored in her U.S. bow on May 7 when taking a 10-furlong allowance at Belmont Park by a nose but was unable to factor last out against the boys in the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational going two miles, coming in seventh on that occasion. Alex Cintron has the call.
Others in with a shot include Grade 3 victress Starstruck, Grade 1-placed Concise and Parting Kiss, a romping front-running winner going a mile over the course on June 2.
A pair of $50,000 stakes are also part of the card, with nine entered in both the Carl Hanford Memorial going a mile-and-70-yards and Oh Say sending sophomores six furlongs. The latter event features Grade 3 winners Coup de Grace and Debt Ceiling as well as Jerome runner-up Classic Giacnroll.