`Crafty' deal paying off

Former claimer is favorite in $100,000 Fire Plug Stakes

Laurel notebook

January 20, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,[Sun reporter]

When trainer Benny Feliciano claimed the gelding Crafty Schemer in October 2005, he wasn't expecting anything special.

"I thought he was just a horse that might be able to win back his claiming price of $16,000," Feliciano said yesterday, while waiting for today's $100,000 Fire Plug Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and up at Laurel Park in which Crafty Schemer is the morning-line favorite at 5-2.

"He just looked good for the price, but shortly after we got him he started to grow. His shoulders got bigger and now, he's a monster," Feliciano said.

And he became something of a force on the track, winning two stakes last year and $200,000. Under Feliciano's guidance, Crafty Schemer has finished first or second 10 times in 16 starts.

Today he'll be in a competitive battle with Ah Day (7-2), Celtic Innis (4-1) and Abbondanza, the 2006 winner of this race with morning odds of 12-1, among the eight-horse field.

"These are solid horses," Feliciano said. "I think we'll be the favorite, but it will be a hard race. Celtic Innis is a nice horse - and we've been beaten by Abbondanza. A race is never easy, whether it's a claimer or a stakes."

Also on the card today is the What A Summer Stakes, a $100,000, six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Top morning-line choice in that six-horse field is Silmaril at 3-2. The 6-year-old mare has won seven added-money races at four different distances in her career - none of them six furlongs - and is prepping for the Grade II Barbara Fritchie Handicap on Feb. 17.

Among the horses to watch in the Summer Stakes is Yolanda B. Too (3-1), who finished second in the Maryland Million Distaff but won the Squan Song Stakes Dec. 23 through disqualification.

Younger Delp wins

Trainer Cleve Delp earned his first win yesterday, just three weeks after the death of his father, Hall of Famer Bud Delp. The younger Delp won with Glenwood Ace ($5.80) by 9 3/4 lengths in the second race, an $18,000 claimer.

"Pretty impressive effort," said Delp, 21, a full-time student at UMBC. "My dad always wanted me to step up to the plate. The horse ran a big race. He is a nice horse."

Delp's dad saddled 3,674 winners, including Spectacular Bid, a three-time champion who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1979. Glenwood Ace is owned by Harry and Tom Meyerhoff, who also owned Spectacular Bid.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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