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Delightfulmemphisn takes first shot at Yonkers Open ranks
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Delightfulmemphisn takes first shot at Yonkers Open ranks

Although Delightfulmemphisn arrived in the United States less than two months ago, the New Zealand mare has already posted a pair of impressive miles for trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman. Friday (Aug. 10), she’ll take her first shot in the Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway.

Norman discovered Delightfulmemphisn while on a trip to Australia earlier this year. In the care of Mark Jones, the Bettor's Delight mare had shown talent, winning two Group 3 stakes to begin her career and placing in another seven Group 1 or 2 stakes, including four runner-up finishes to the Purdon and Rasmussen star Spanish Armada. However, bleeding issues prevented Delightfulmemphisn from achieving her full potential in the Lasix-free jurisdiction.

“I knew a lot about her. A friend of mine down there trained her and he told me about her,” Norman said. “I was down there on vacation over the New Year and he said she’d been bleeding a little bit and I thought she’d probably be better off up here. It was just a matter of getting it organized. She’s a good mare at home and she looks like she’s going to fit in pretty good around here too.”

Delightfulmemphisn raced just a week before flying to the United States, finishing second in an overnight at Menangle. Despite the drastic change in seasons, she arrived in Norman’s stable fit and ready.

“I think (the weather) is more drastic this time of year because they’re coming out of the winter into the summer and they’ve got their winter coat. It’s much more drastic this time of year,” Norman said. “This time of the year, with the weather, it’s probably best just to keep them racing well than try and lay them up. She had a pretty good winter coat, but we just clipped her up and she’s filled out real good and she’s a pretty nice mare.

“They often get sick just because of the heat,” he continued. “So far so good, but you’ll see a lot of New Zealand and Australian horses getting stressed this time of year for that reason. So far so good, but I won’t be surprised if she does get a little sick at some stage.”

Norman qualified Delightfulmemphisn July 14 at The Meadowlands. The 5-year-old Sept. 28 foal got away in fifth and closed with a :27.1 final quarter to finish third in a 1:52 clocking. It was her first pari-mutuel start the following week however, that surprised Norman.

Delightfulmemphisn made her debut July 20 in a $17,500 overnight at the Big M. She raced last of seven past the half, 8-1/4 lengths behind leader Call Me Queen Bee. While the outer flow developed around the final turn, driver Brett Miller stayed inside, but laid flat in the sulky as his mare raged with pace.

Delightfulmemphisn tossed her head in behind horses, but as Miller found a seam along the pylons, he kicked out the plugs and let Delightfulmemphisn advance. Taking a few peeks at his left wheel in deep stretch, Miller ensured he didn’t go inside the pylons in the tight space and Delightfulmemphisn streaked past rival Monica Gallagher to finish third. She came home with a :25.1 final quarter and paced her mile in 1:51.2.

“She was in good shape and she was good and fit and everything. She was nice and strong finishing, that was all I was looking for. I didn’t really want to go that quick. She was nice and handy doing it,” Norman said of the qualifier. “The bigger shock was when I raced her at The Meadowlands and she paced home in :25.1. That’s just ridiculous and Brett Miller said to me after, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever come home in :25.1 with a horse before and be that strong.’ She was dynamite.”

Delightfulmemphisn won her last start at Harrah’s Philadelphia July 27, coming from off the pace to score by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:51.2.

“She raced really good at Chester and had lots of pace finishing there too,” her trainer said. “That’s all I’m really looking for is just to get some good solid starts into her, get some foundation, and have her finishing up strong at the wire.”

Delightfulmemphisn will make her first local start in Friday’s distaff feature. Dan Dube will drive in the $44,000 pace and the pair are a 6-1 morning line chance after being assigned post three. Caviart Cherie is a lukewarm 7-2 favorite off consecutive second place finishes in this class, but drew post seven. The field also features Made Of Jewels As, who won this feature July 27 and drew post six, and Rockstar Angel A, who will make her third start on American soil for Chris Oakes. Vorst, Keystone Wanda, Change The Rulz N, and Magic Forces complete the lineup.

“She fit non-winners of $30,000; that’s where I entered her and it obviously didn’t fill, so they put her in there. It’s an open purse, I like that part,” Norman said. “I think she’ll be competitive. I think there’s another foreign mare in there that’s pretty good.”

Although Norman knows Delightfulmemphisn can show speed -- she has done so many times in Australia and New Zealand -- he is content to continue racing her from behind at this stage of her stateside career as a protective measure. While this will be her first start on a half-mile track, he is confident Delightfulmemphisn will handle the turns.

“I’ve seen her leave the gate good down home, I’ve seen her race on the front quite a bit,” he said. “She was bleeding a little bit down there, so I just didn’t want to put her in that situation where she’s on the front and getting run over or getting run down. We’ll try her like that for a little while and see how she handles it.

“I think she’s really going to fit in good here in America,” he continued. “I think she could be a legitimate open mare. This will be her first time half-mile track. That will be a bit of a challenge maybe, but she seems to steer really good, so I don’t think it will be too bad. We train on a five-eighths, but she gets around it good.”

First post time Friday is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.
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