Bonny South is rated as one of the top female horses in the country, but she faces an experienced field in the 2021 rendition of the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap on Saturday.
The Brad Cox-trained 4-year-old is ranked 7th in the country by the Daily Racing Form, and is coming off a 2 3/4-length loss to top-ranked Letruska in last month's Ogden Phipps at New York's Belmont Park.
Before that runner-up performance, she claimed a photograph win in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare at Kentucky's Keeneland, and last year won the Grade 2 Fair Ground Oaks.
Track Handicapper Chris Sobocinski installed her as the 3/2 morning line favorite for the 1 1/4 mile race for fillies and mares.
"I spoke to Brad Cox, and he said one of the nice things about this filly is you usually don't have to make any excuses for her, and she usually gives it her best every time. You have to love horses like that."
Sobocinski said Bonny South has one other advantage, she's the only scheduled starter with a top-3 finish at the grueling 1 1/4 mile distance, rarely seen in North American female dirt racing.
"An intriguing element of handicapping the Delaware Handicap is knowing a horse can get a mile-and-a-quarter. She proved last year she can successfully negotiating the distance by running second in the Grade 1 Alabama. That's always nice to know when you're going to the [betting] window that your horse can get the distance."
A victory would require some revenge, as she lost by a neck in the 2020 Black Eyed Susan to Miss Marissa, who will start just to her outside. Miss Marissa has lost her last three starts, including a 2nd place finish to Dream Marie in Delaware Park's local prep, the Obeah Stakes, last month on a sloppy track.
Dream Marie was installed as the 4/1 third choice. She was second in last year's Delaware Oaks, but has yet to claim a graded stakes victory in nine attempts.
The second choice is Queen Nekia (3/1), who finished over 11 lengths back of Bonny South in the Ogden Phipps.
She'll be making her 11th start on Delaware Park's main track, and has five victories, but finished 6th in the 2019 rendition of the DelCap.
Queen Nekia's 2021 campaign opened with an upset win at 29-1 in the Grade 3 Royal Delta at Gulfstream Park in Florida. Royal Delta won both the 2012 and 2013 DelCaps.
A.I duPont-alum Trevor McCarthy returns to Delaware to ride Gibberish (8/1), who finished 4th behind Queen Nekia in the Royal Delta. She did win the ungraded Treasure Chest Stakes at Delta Downs last November.
Saracosa (10/1) finished second in last year's Delaware Handicap to Dunbar Road, but has struggled in her last three races, including a 6th place finish in a Churchill Downs allowance race to start her 2021 campaign. She has just two wins in 21 attempts.
The outside post went to Final Cut (12/1), who will be making her stakes debut. Her last victory came six starts ago in an off-the-turf allowance optional claiming race, but will be hoping for a fast dirt track for the first time since last November.
The Grade II $400,000 Delaware Handicap is set as the 9th race with an approximate post time of 5:15 p.m.
It's part of a 10-race card that also includes the $150,000 Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes at 1 3/8 miles on the turf. Grade II Hillsborough Stakes winner Micheline is the morning line favorite in that race.
The ungraded Battery Park and Bashing Beauty Stakes are also scheduled.
There will be a $26,710 carryover in the Pick 5 on Saturday that begins in Race 3 (2:15 p.m.).