It took Delta Bluesman 17 tries before he found the winner's circle, but once he knew how to get there, he became a regular. In his 28 starts since that first win, he’s finished worse than third only four times.
Third in two listed starts last year, Delta Bluesman notched his first graded stakes victory when he captured the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream July 2. That race punched his ticket to Santa Anita as a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the TwinSpires Sprint.
The gray 6-year-old Wagon Limit gelding was a $30,000 claim two years ago by current trainer Jorge Navarro. In the Smile Sprint, Delta Bluesman was headed by Chef Lion, but battled back to win in by daylight in 1:08.94 with Emisael Jaramillo up.
"He can be a chicken. I was amazed that he dug in like that," Navarro said. "When (Chief Lion) came up, I thought, 'Jaramillo, what are you doing?’ because he doesn’t like horses coming next to him. But maybe he is changing, coming around, and becoming the horse that we thought he was in the morning."
Since that race, he ran fourth in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga and was a game winner in the Hall of Fame Stakes at Parx Sept. 17. In that five furlong sprint, he broke slowly, got stopped at the head of the stretch, and came on to score by a length in :57.45.
Trainer Navarro sent out Private Zone in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and finished second.