Maggi Moss’ Delaunay once again showed why he’s one of the swiftest sprinters in the land.
Delaunay won his 17th career start and fifth in six Fair Grounds Race Course tries when comfortably consuming six others — including three graded stakes winners — in the 89th running of the $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap.
After breaking from the far outside in the seven-hole, the son of Smoke Glacken quickly cleared his opposition and established himself as the fastest in a field flush with possible front-running foes. Never challenged, Delaunay’s victory was doubtless as he turned for home. He was eased under the wire a clear victor by seven facile lengths.
Ridden by James Graham for Tom Amoss, Delaunay won his second Thanksgiving; he also did so in 2012. The Maryland-bred traveled the six-furlong distance in 1:09.05 over a fast track after setting fractions of :21.79, :45.15 and :56.38.
Sent off at as the even-money favorite, Delaunay returned $4, $3.20 and $2.20, and he earned $36,000 to boost his career bankroll to $1,056,491.
“He broke well and did everything right,” Graham said. “Tom said he’d be ready and he was. He came with bells on.”
Amoss echoed those sentiments.
“It is kind of lost on people that he’s 7 and turning 8 and runs this well,” he explained. “He’s easy to train, and I can’t take credit for his talent. He may not be as good as he once was, but he’s a great horse.”
Obviously, Moss was ecstatic.
“It was very emotional,” she said. “I kept saying I wasn’t nervous and that he owes me nothing. Then he went in the gate and it was so exciting. What a great call by (announcer) John Dooley — he made me cry a little. You never know when you give them time off if they will return to form, but I know him so well that I can watch his face and tell when he’s on his game — and today he was.
“Unbelievable job by Tom, too. (Delaunay) is the most straightforward racehorse I’ve ever owned. He’ll stay at the Fair Grounds with Tom and run in the stakes races there. The key really is if you take good care of them, they take care of you. They reward you when you do that, and that’s why it was such an emotional win. He’ll have a home with me when he’s eventually done racing.”
Roger Braugh’s Take It Like A Man, at 10-1, ran gamely up the inside to finish second under Miguel Mena for new trainer Jonas Gibson, who had claimed him for $32,000 at Keeneland last out, returning $7.20 and $4.
Windy Hill Farm’s Nates Mineshaft, ridden by Antioco Murgia for trainer Anne Smith, chased Delaunay the entirety of the race and had his undefeated 5-for-5 Fair Grounds record snapped when returning $2.80 to show as the public’s 2-1 second wagering choice.
“I was in a good position and was saving ground,” Mena said. “He came running and was second-best.”
Murgia was equally humbled by the winner.
“The trip was OK,” he said. “The plan was to go to the lead, but the other horse was faster. We couldn’t get to the winner at the end.”
Lemon Drop Dream, 2013 Thanksgiving winner Gantry, Rhetorical and Rugged completed the order of finish in front of the holiday crowd.