Stanco has Princess of Sylmar on track to win DelCap

Posted: July 11, 2014

WHEN IT BECAME obvious early last year that Princess of Sylmar was going to be a special filly, Ed Stanco had one race he really wanted her to win - the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, not far from where he grew up. Well, she won the Alabama in the midst of an historic four-race win streak that included the Kentucky Oaks, CCA Oaks and Beldame.

This year, Stanco, along with his five partners, targeted one race they really want win - tomorrow's $750,000 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park.

DelPark is 30 miles from Sylmar Farm outside Coatesville where the Princess was born and a similar distance from Malvern where Stanco lives. Stanco and his family have been Delaware Park regulars through the years.

"It is unbelievable," Stanco said. "I would have never believed we would have a filly that has a very good shot at the Delaware Handicap. Everybody we know, everybody who is connected to this horse, is going to be at Delaware Park. I am very excited about having the opportunity to run our filly in this race. She is coming back home and for us that is really exciting."

Princess of Sylmar is going to be an overwhelming favorite in the DelCap. The Pennsylvania bred 4-year-old filly has raced 13 times, with nine wins and two seconds. She has won $1.85 million.

"I have seen plenty of Delaware Handicaps," Stanco said. "I saw Unbridled Belle, Blind Luck, Fleet Indian, Island Sand, Irving's Baby, Lu Ravi, Tap to Music. I know them all.

"I am also very aware of the history of the race. If you go in the Delaware Handicap room, it is unbelievable - Christiana Stables, Hobeau Farms, Bohemia Stables and Brandywine Stables. The race has a special history and it has a special place in my heart and with my family. When I go back and look at the recent winners of the Delaware Handicap - Blind Luck, Havre de Grace (second to Blind Luck on the way to Horse of the Year), Life at Ten - I just cannot believe that my partners and I own a horse at this level who is a contender for the Delaware Handicap. That has not sunk in yet."

The Princess is the first horse Stanco ever bred. Her dam, Storm Dixie, is now in foal to Tapit, America's hottest sire and the sire of the brilliant 3-year-old filly Untapable, the 2014 version of Princess of Sylmar.

The only bad race the Princess ever ran was in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Distaff when she finished last. It was a late decision to go and everything went wrong on the day of the race.

"I saw her the day before the Breeders' Cup and she was fine,'' Stanco said. "That Friday, when they brought her out, she was soaking wet. In the paddock, she just didn't look herself. Even my granddaughter who, is 7, said 'How come Princess isn't looking at me.' She was sort of fumbling around. Then, of course, she tripped out of the gate."

Perhaps, it was the Southern California heat.

"I will never know," Stanco said.

The filly was sent to an equine clinic in Kentucky after the race and checked out fine.

Beholder ended up overwhelming the Distaff field and took the 3-year-old filly championship from Princess of Sylmar.

"If we didn't go, two things would have happened," Stanco said. "Beholder would still get the award and rightfully so. And the other thing that would have happened was I would have regretted it for the rest of my life."

The Princess has come back strong as a 4-year-old, winning a minor stake at Aqueduct on April 6 before losing a photo in the Ogden Phipps on Belmont Stakes Day.

Stanco figured they had 100 friends and family at Belmont Park that day. He expects 500 or more at Delaware Park.

If the Princess wins the DelCap, her trainer Todd Pletcher will set the record for DelCap wins with five. He is currently tied with Hall of Famer Henry Clark. In what should be a good omen, Princess of Sylmar's jockey Javier Castellano will be celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary tomorrow.

There will be five other fillies and mares in the starting gate, but all eyes will be on the filly in the No. 6 post. That would be Princess of Sylmar.

Road trip?

It is exactly 58 miles from Parx Racing to Delaware Park. If the post times hold, an adventurous soul could see the $200,000 Parx Dash before making the trip down I-95 to catch the DelCap.

The Parx Dash is scheduled for 3:41, the DelCap 4:51 so there is little margin for error or traffic. Two-time defending champion Ben's Cat will be the headliner at Parx, but he will face a much more difficult task than the Princess because his race is just 5 furlongs (on grass) as opposed to a mile and a quarter. If something goes wrong in the Dash, there isn't much make-up time in a race that will take less than a minute.

Ben's Cat will be going for lifetime win No. 27 in race No. 41. The now 8-year-old, trained by Maryland legend King Leatherbury, is his trainer's first $1 million earner. Now, the horse is about to become a $2 million earner with just a top-three finish.

The opposition is formidable with two-time Pennsylvania Governor's Cup winner Tightend Touchdown and the very fast Marchman among others. But Ben loves the Parx course, whether the grass is hard, soft or in between. He has raced at Parx six times, with four wins, a second and a third.

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