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Jul 11, 2008

Unbridled Belle returns for another Delaware Handicap


Stanton, DE (Sports Network) - Defending Delaware Handicap champion Unbridled Belle is back in an attempt to become the sixth repeat winner of Delaware Park's premier event. The five-year-old mare is the 2-1 morning-line favorite and will face ten rivals in the 1 1/4 mile race worth $1 million.

The Del 'Cap has been designated as a "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup Challenge race with the winner automatically qualifying for the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic on Friday, October 24.

Unbridled Belle's trainer Todd Pletcher has the chance to join Henry Clark as the only conditioners to win the Del 'Cap four times. Clark sent out both Endine and Obeah to each win the race twice. Pletcher won the Del 'Cap in 2001 with Irving's Baby, in 2006 with Fleet Indian, along with Unbridled Belle. He would also become the only trainer to win the race three consecutive times.

Owned by Team Valor, Unbridled Belle will start from post nine with regular rider Ramon Dominguez in the saddle, Dominguez will be seeking his third Delaware Handicap victory. Along with last year's win he was first aboard Irving's Baby.

"It would be extremely exciting to be able to win the race for a third time," said Dominguez. "I still think about the times I have won the race and it has been very fulfilling just because Delaware has been my hometown track. There is so much history and tradition in the Delaware Handicap and to be a part of that is overwhelming. Winning the Delaware Handicap with Irving's Baby in 2001, I put in the top three accomplishments of my career."

Unbridled Belle is the winner of better than $1.3 million with six wins in 15 lifetime starts. At Delaware Park alone she has four wins and a second in five starts. The mare won the Obeah Stakes here in her only 2008 race.

"She is absolutely perfect for the distance," Dominguez said. "When you look at her, she is a huge filly with tactical speed. She fits perfectly for the distance and she has a great record over the track, so our chances will be as good anybody."

The second choice at 3-1 is Hystericalady. Trained by co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer, Hystericalady will be ridden by Garrett Gomez from post eight.

In her last race the five-year-old notched a win in the $300,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 14 by better than seven-lengths.

"You never really expect to win a race by that much," said Hollendorfer. "But she really gets a hold of Churchill Downs main track, so we were expecting a solid performance from her."

Last year she was second to Ginger Punch in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Monmouth Park. In her career Hystericalady has nine wins from 19 starts for $1,510,566.

"When you ship, there is always a concern because lots of things could happen," said Hollendorfer. "But she ships well and she has done this before many times, so I am not really worried about that. She has never been a 1 1/4 miler, so you never know, but I am confident she can get the distance."

At 5-1 Spring Waltz is the third choice in the 11 horse field. The five-year- old will break from post ten with Javier Castellano in the saddle.

Trained by Bobby Frankel for Frank Stronachy, Silver Waltz has won her last four starts, but has not raced since capturing her first and only stakes race, the $200,000 Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream Park on March 9. The mare has earned $317,117 with six wins and three seconds in nine starts.

Here is the complete Del 'Cap field in position order: Moon Catcher, Edgar Prado 15-1; Santa Teresita, Kent Desormeaux 6-1; All Smiles, Pablo Morales 30-1; Buy the Barrel, Gabriel Saez 8-1; Over Under, Miguel Mena 20-1; Lemon Drop Mom, Jose Caraballo 20-1; Kathleens Reel, Chris Emigh 15-1; Hystericalady, Garrett Gomez 3-1; Unbridled Belle, Ramon Dominguez 2-1; Spring Waltz, Javier Castellano 5-1 and Copper State, Mario Pino 20-1.

Post-time for the 71st running of the Delaware Handicap is 5:46 p.m. (et) and will be televised on ESPN2.

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