By John Manley
Trainer Larry Mayo winters in Kentucky, which does him absolutely no good with a grasser such as Aboriginal Apex. So Mayo looked south, noted that Niall O’Callaghan would be stabling at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, which has a turf oval, and arranged for the Corkman to put the 6-year-old gelding through his paces this winter.
Aboriginal Apex seems to have taken a shine to his foster home, as evidenced by his wire-to-window victory in the $132,950 Fair Grounds Breeders’ Cup Handicap at nine furlongs on the sod. After ringing up some boxcar mutuels in 1997, punters in the bluegrass caught on and two of Apex’s three 1998 wins were at odds-on. But the Cajuns were a bit skeptical, what with a two-month layoff showing in the past performances, and let the winner drift up to 11-1 at post time.
Jockey Larry Melancon knows that the Gary Knapp-owned gelding is pretty much one-dimensional if he is going to be effective, so he let Aboriginal Apex show the way, while nursing him along on fractions of 24.50 and 49.83 seconds. There were challengers aplenty down the lane, but O’Callaghan had the tank on full, leaving the fast-closing Chorwon unable to get closer than a half-length under the wire. The final time was 1:51.71. The winning mutuel price was $24.40.
No need to question Delilah
Welshman Tom Jones made female hearts swoon three decades ago, when he asked the musical question, "Why, why, why Delilah?" Jerry Bailey didn’t elicit similar questions from the multitudes at Gulfstream. Instead, he sent hearts of both genders racing after guiding Delilah, an Irish-bred filly, to a 1-1/4 lengths victory in The Very One Handicap, a $75,000 Grade III event.
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Delilah, a 5-year-old daughter of Bluebird, was purchased at auction in Kentucky last November for $550,000. A Group III winner in Europe, she also had a third-place finish in last year’s Irish St. Leger to her credit.
Trainer Chris Clement has few peers when it comes to bringing a horse back from a layoff and he burnished his reputation here. Delilah stalked the leaders the first time around Gulfstream’s grass oval, then took the race to them around the far turn the final time. She and Bailey got the lead in midstretch, then were fully extended to hold Starry Dreamer at bay in the shadow of the wire.
Delilah paid $4.40 to win. She ran the 11 furlongs in 2:13.2. M. Ings is the happy owner of Delilah, which was bred by Bob Lanigan’s Tullamaine Castle Stud of Fethard, Co. Tipperary.