Royal Lahaina magisterial in winning Grade 2 Go For Wand H.
By John Scheinman | 11/29/2013 05:14 PM ET
Making her second start for trainer Todd Pletcher, 5-year-old mare Royal Lahaina turned in the strongest performance of her career, racing from just off the pace and pouncing on the turn for home to win the Grade 2, $300,000 Go for Wand Handicap on Friday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Ridden by jockey Jose Ortiz, the daughter of Chapel Royal ran the one-mile dirt race in 1:36.56, defeating favored runner-up Centring by 2 ½ lengths at odds of 13-1.
My Pal Chrisy finished third, followed by Willet, Ol Donyo, Fantasy of Flight and Street Girl.
In her first start for Pletcher, the leading trainer in the country, Royal Lahaina made a mild bid and finished fourth, beaten 4 ¾ lengths, by Stanwyck in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap on October 26 at Belmont Park. Centring finished second in that race and Fantasy of Flight third.
The tables were turned, however, in the Go for Wand. When the gate opened, Fantasy of Flight, also trained by Pletcher, broke on top from her No. 6 post position and ran the first quarter-mile in 24.59 seconds and a half-mile in 48.20 while prompted by Ol Donyo on her outside.
Ortiz settled Royal Lahaina three wide and in the clear tracking those two. Centring, the 2-1 favorite, was sixth through the early going under rider Rajiv Maragh.
On the turn for home, Royal Lahaina moved quickly to the leaders and opened up by two lengths. Centring rallied late for second.
"She broke very well, and I was able to get perfect position on the outside," Ortiz said. "At the three-eighths pole, I knew I had a lot of horse, so I just waited a little bit. When I asked her to go, she did."
The victory was the seventh in 25 career starts for Royal Lahaina, who is owned by James Riccio. The $180,000 first-place purse increased her lifetime earnings to $513,830. She returned $28.20 for a $2 win bet.