Over the last few years the Delaware Handicap has become a prominent fixture in the older female division. Several top mares have used it as a springboard to a successful season, some even going on to be crowned Eclipse Award champions.
This year the race has drawn a short but contentious field, topped by Larry Jones’ I’m a Chatterbox.
I’m a Chatterbox was one of the best 3-year-old fillies in 2015. She did so well, in fact, that she was nominated for an Eclipse Award. In 2015, I’m a Chatterbox danced in just about every big dance, finishing out of the top three on just one occasion.
This year, the daughter of Munnings began her campaign with a strong second-place showing before breaking out in the local Obeah Stakes, winning by over eight lengths. Since that effort, she has been working well at Delaware Park, with her last work going on record as a bullet work.
While it would seem that I’m a Chatterbox is the one to beat in the Delaware Handicap, it would be wise not to sleep on Paid Up Subscriber.
Paid Up Subscriber wasn’t the most impressive racehorse early on in her career, but since she’s been introduced to the world of two-turn races, the daughter of Candy Ride has turned over a new leaf.
Her latest victory came in the Grade II Fleur de Lis Stakes at Churchill Downs. It wasn’t the most impressive field, but she won it in good time, drawing away impressively at the end. She was able to record her final furlong in an impressive :11.99 seconds.
If going by past performances, it would be hard to argue against Paid Up Subscriber. She is not only in career-best form, but she is also stretching out another furlong (eighth of a mile) in distance for the Delaware Handicap. This could be a huge edge for her, since it would appear that she just keeps getting better and better with more distance.
Another thing that Paid Up Subscriber has going for her is her breeding. When it comes to racing over a route of ground, she is bred to love, love, love it — the longer the race, the better. Her sire — the aforementioned Candy Ride — won the Grade I Pacific Classic, while her dam is by Dubai World Cup and Stephen Foster winner Street Cry. Based on that, the 10-furlong distance of the Delaware Handicap should be right up her alley.
I’m a Chatterbox, on the other hand, is not nearly as well bred to handle the added distance. She did perform well going nine furlongs several times in 2015, but has never attempted 10 furlongs until now. She does have some stamina influences in the fourth generation of her pedigree and back, but, before that, you will find mainly speed.
So, in a battle of proven class vs. a rising challenger, who emerges victorious?
Will the class of I’m a Chatterbox prevail, or will superior breeding and an aptitude for two-turn races earn Paid Up Subscriber her first Grade I victory?
The only way to know for sure is to watch the answer unfold on the track, in what promises to be another thrilling Delaware Handicap.