Penwith Tops Sandiva in Royal Delta
HorseracingFLA Staff Report
Penwith’s dirt track experience and tactical speed made the difference on Saturday as she gained her first graded stakes win, taking the $200,000 Royal Delta (Grade 2) at Gulfstream Park.
Penwith beat turf specialist Sandiva by three lengths in the 1 1/16 mile stakes, winning in 1:43.16 on the track listed as fast. Best Behavior finished third in the five-horse field.
It was the third fastest running of the Royal Delta in the past five years, since Gulfstream returned it to 1 1/16 miles.
Luis Saez rode Penwith for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and owner Godolphin Racing which is based in the United Arab Emirate of Dubai.
It was the second straight win for the 5-year-old daughter of Bernardini since returning from nearly a year between races. She won a one-mile optional claiming allowance Jan. 21 at Gulfstream.
“It was a very good ride, a good spot, and she ran huge,” McLaughlin said after the Royal Delta. “I’m glad the owners were patient and gave her the time off and she’s come back great. She’s beautiful and doing well, and it was a great win.”
Third choice at 3-1, Penwith and Saez broke sharply from the gate and quickly moved into a stalking position on the right flank of pacesetter Best Behavior through a quarter-mile in 23.77 seconds and a half in 47.31.
Sandiva, a multiple graded turf stakes winner making her first start on dirt, broke awkwardly under rider Joel Rosario and found herself trailing the group in the early stages.
Penwith effortlessly assumed the lead as Best Behavior dropped back following six furlongs in 1:11.30, while the 6-5 favorite Sandiva began to launch a bid on the outside.
Saez guided Penwith down the middle of the stretch where she had plenty left to hold off Sandiva.
It was the fifth win in 12 lifetime starts for Penwith, who had run in five previous graded stakes including thirds in the 2013 Demoiselle (G2) and 2014 Indiana Oaks (G2). She earned $124,000 to push her bankroll to $404,635.
Sandiva is owned by Al Shaqab Racing of the United Arab Emirate of Qatar and trained by Todd Pletcher. She was attempting to follow her Pletcher-trained stablemate Mshawish by becoming a graded stakes winner on dirt and turf.
“I thought she handled the dirt really well,” Pletcher said. “She kind of tossed her head right at the start and had to make up a little bit of ground into the first turn but after that I thought she ran really well. She was just second-best to Kiaran’s filly today.”
Sandiva began this season with a 1 ½-length victory in the Marshua’s River (Grade 3) on Jan. 9.
It was her third win from four career starts at Gulfstream, all on the turf. Last season, she won the Tropical Park Oaks and Suwannee River (Grade 3) and finished second by a neck to Lady Lara in the Honey Fox (Grade 2).
Mshawish is proving to be as big a star on dirt as he has been on turf.
He won three turf stakes at Gulfstream last year, including the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (Grade 1).
This year on dirt at Gulfstream. Mshawish has won the $150,000 Hal’s Hope (Grade 3) and the $500.000 Donn Handicap (Grade 1) on dirt
Gulfstream Park—Feb. 13, 2016, 4th race
4 -PENWITH 8.80 3.80 2.20
5 -SANDIVA-IRE 2.80 2.10
6 -BEST BEHAVIOR 2.20
$2 EXACTA 4-5 PAID $25.20; $1 TRIFECTA 4-5-6 PAID
$17.10; 10 CENT SUPERFECTA 4-5-6-2 PAID $4.82