Slop doesn't deter Delta Music

Filly breezes to victory in her Maryland debut, taking Straight Deal 'Cap

August 15, 1999|By Pete Bielski | Pete Bielski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Jockey Brent Bartram didn't ask any questions when he was asked to ride Delta Music at Laurel Park yesterday.

The Delaware Park regular has learned to do as told when New York trainer Neil Howard has instructions. The result was an easy commute down I-95 and an easier ride to victory in the $125,000 Straight Deal Breeders' Cup Handicap.

"When Neil calls, you just go," said Bartram, 36. "You know he's going to have the horses ready to go."

Delta Music, with seven wins from 14 career starts, had been battling tougher competition before yesterday's debut in Maryland. She won allowance races in Florida, Kentucky and New York, most of Howard's regular tracks. Howard, who saddled Preakness winner Summer Squall in 1990, was not at the track.

The most drama in the Straight Deal was supplied by the weather. A downpour accompanied by lightning prompted a 10-minute delay to the race and Laurel's first sloppy track of the summer. If anything, the slop helped Delta Music, who won two previous starts on slop.

"I didn't mind seeing the rain," said Bartram, who had never ridden Delta Music before yesterday. "I knew she liked it wet by reading the paper."

When the gates opened, Bartram pushed his filly right to the front, then urged the even-money choice to get loose from the five-horse field through the opening quarter-mile. She moved to an easy two-length lead over Valay Bullet in the seven-furlong race and faced just one mild challenge. That came from Crab Grass and jockey Rick Wilson, who stalked to within a half-length of the lead on the turn.

But Bartram responded with a gentle smack of the whip and Delta Music surged ahead again. Crab Grass faded in the stretch, as Nothing Special rallied from last to second, still three lengths behind. Crab Grass was three lengths further back in third; Valay Bullet was fourth and Belle de Soleil was last.

Delta Music finished the seven furlongs in 1 minute, 25.57 seconds and paid $4. The exacta with Nothing Special paid $15.60. The win boosted the 4-year-old's career earnings to $265,000.

For Bartram, it was a productive day at Laurel. He rode Sarahy to victory in the $28,000 eighth race and was third on Fair Territory in the last race.

Previous victories for Bartram on Howard horses include rides aboard stakes-winner Comic Strip. As for Delta Music, Bartram was impressed.

"She broke with them, and I pushed her to the front and it was basically over," he said. "When that other horse came to us, I just let her out a notch and she took off. She's got her pension now. She'll be a nice broodmare some day with a $100,000 stakes victory to her credit."

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