ORCHID STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | FILLIES & MARES | GRADE 3 | 1 1/2 MILES (TURF)
Steven W. Ciccarone's Regalo Mia, last seen getting up in time in the January 19 Florida Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf at 1 1/8 miles, relished stretching out to 1 1/2 grassy miles in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Orchid Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Swooping fast on the outside in deep stretch, the Michelle Nihei filly inhaled the leaders and won going away by two lengths. The 8-1 fourth choice in a field of 10 stopped the teletimer in 2:23 2/5 and rewarded her backers with $19.40, $9 and $5.20.
Regalo Mia was ridden for the first time by Luis Contreras, who saved ground from the rail post while reserving her about four to five lengths off the pace. Up front, 28-1 shot Closing Range carved out splits of :23 and :47 3/5 on the firm turf before yielding to the 54-1 Game Fair through six furlongs in 1:12 1/5.
Game Fair clung to a narrow lead when reaching the mile mark in 1:36 1/5, but Irish Mission was creeping up purposefully. Irish Mission, a Sovereign Award finalist in the three-year-old filly and turf female categories, asserted her class on the final turn and tried to edge away in the stretch.
By that point, however, Regalo Mia had angled out for running room, and the diminutive daughter of Sligo Bay took off to score convincingly, upping her line to 10-3-3-3, $327,721.
Angegreen rallied from last to nip Irish Mission for second. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Anjaz in fourth, followed by Starformer, who was well positioned just off the pace but never picked up; Seanchai; 6-5 favorite Aigue Marine, who lost steam in the lane after advancing four wide on the far turn; Game Fair; Tree Hugger; and Closing Range.
Regalo Mia has raced exclusively on turf. Last year at three, the bay placed in five stakes. Beaten all of a neck when third in the Florida Oaks, she was edged by Dayatthespa by the same margin in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride, and checked in a distant third to her in the Grade 3 Appalachian. Regalo Mia came even closer in the Grade 2 Sands Point, failing to catch Better Lucky by a nose. Regalo Mia flew to California for the Grade 1 American Oaks last summer, only to spike a fever and ultimately came down with pneumonia.
Unraced for five months, she returned with a solid third in the October 27 Banner Gala at Belmont, before an uncharacteristic flop in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere on November 17. Regalo Mia scored her stakes breakthrough in the Florida Sunshine Millions, and by following up in the Orchid, she is now two-for-two this season.
Bred by Juvenal Diaz in Florida, Regalo Mia is out of the Red Bullet mare Shake It Up, who is in turn a half-sister to 2002 Wonder Where heroine, Hot Talent.