First Graded Stakes Win Spoils Dirt Debut of Favored Sandiva
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Godolphin Racing’s Penwith continued to reward her connections for their patience by turning away even-money favorite Sandiva and earn her first graded stakes victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Royal Delta (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
It was the second straight win for the 5-year-old Bernardini mare since returning from nearly a year between races to capture a one-mile optional claiming allowance Jan. 21 at Gulfstream for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
“It was a very good ride, a good spot, and she ran huge. She’s come back great this year,” McLaughlin said. “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 in a field of five at 3-1, Penwith ($8.80) and jockey Luis Saez was sharp from the gate 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 stakes winner making her first start on dirt, broke awkwardly 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 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 and win by three lengths in 1:43.16 for 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track.
“That was perfect,” Saez said. “I thought [Gamblers Rose] or [Enchantress] would go to the lead, too, but my filly broke good. [Best Behavior] went to the lead and I put my filly right there. It was perfect all the time, and when we came to the three-eighths pole she took off. I had a lot of horse the whole way. That was easy.”
It was the fifth win from 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.
“[Saez] rode a great race and had her right there pretty comfortable. She looked like she was going easy,” McLaughlin said. “I told him not to hit her if he didn’t have to because she doesn’t really like the whip. It was great that he didn’t have to because she was cruising along.”
Al Shaqab’s Sandiva was attempting to follow her Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate Mshawish by becoming a graded stakes winner on dirt and turf. She was four lengths clear of Best Behavior in third, followed by Gamblers Rose and Enchantress.
“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.”
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