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Darlins Delight Hoping To Pull A 'Federer'


Published: August 19, 2009 7:06 pm ET

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If Darlins Delight were human, she might look to tennis star Roger Federer for inspiration. In June, Federer won the French Open, thereby adding the only major title missing from his resume and cementing his place among the game’s all-time greats.

On Saturday, six-year-old Darlins Delight will try to add the most important title missing from her card when she faces nine rivals in the $331,500 Breeders Crown Mare Pace at the Meadowlands. Three times she has finished second in the event. All three times were against My Little Dragon.

Sound familiar? Three times Federer finished second to Rafael Nadal in the French before breaking through. This year, Nadal failed to reach the final. Similarly, Darlins Delight will not see nemesis My Little Dragon in the Breeders Crown.

“If any horse has ever earned the right to win a Breeders Crown, she certainly has,” trainer Jeff Stafford said. “In most of those races, I wouldn’t say she got bad trips; it is more like they all had one thing in common, they were all tough trips.”

Darlins Delight has won 34 of 73 career races and earned over $2.84 million (US). She has hit the board in 62 of those 73 starts, an 85 percent clip. She ranks No. 3 in lifetime purses among all female pacers in history and needs only $14,388 to pass Loyal Opposition. Eternal Camnation tops the list with $3.74 million.

In 2006, Darlins Delight received the Dan Patch Award as best three-year-old filly pacer. Her major career victories include the Three Diamonds, Fan Hanover, Milton, Lady Liberty, and Golden Girls.

“Nothing she does now will amaze me,” Stafford said. “In my mind she has been one of the best that has ever been.”

Winning this year’s Breeders Crown will not be easy, even with the absence of My Little Dragon. Dreamfair Eternal won last weekend’s prep race by a neck over Darlins Delight and captured the Roses Are Red at Mohawk Racetrack in July.

Dreamfair Eternal has won 10 of 18 races this season and earned $352,096 (US). She was not eligible to the Breeders Crown, but her connections paid the $37,500 supplement fee to enter.

The Breeders Crown field also includes past division champions Southwind Tempo, A And Gs Confusion, and Tug River Princess. A And Gs Confusion won last season’s Breeders Crown for three-year-old fillies.

“There are five or six mares in there that are very good,” said Yannick Gingras, who has driven Darlins Delight throughout her career. “Whoever gets the best trip is going to win the race.”

And you know who Gingras hopes gets that trip.

“We’ve been a bridesmaid three times. It would be nice to get one done,” he said. “It absolutely matters to me. She’s been the best horse I’ve driven and that’s the only thing that’s missing on her resume. We’re going to give it our best shot.”

Here is a look at the field in post position order, with listed drivers and trainers, for the $331,500 Breeders Crown Mare Pace:

1. Tidewaterdragonfly, Ron Pierce, Kelly O’Donnell
2. Go On BB, Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke
3. Darlins Delight, Yannick Gingras, Jeff Stafford
4. Dreamfair Eternal, Tony Kerwood, Patrick Fletcher
5. Btwnyurheartnmine, Brian Sears, Ross Croghan
6. Hana Hanover, George Brennan, Mark Steacy
7. Tug River Princess, John Campbell, Ross Croghan
8. Cuz She Can, Dan Dube, Mark Harder
9. Southwind Tempo, Tim Tetrick, Ross Croghan
10. A And Gs Confusion, David Miller, Casie Coleman.

(Harness Racing Communications)

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