Moncreax Stable’s 5-year-old Irish-bred mare Naissance Royale, who missed by a neck when second as the 4-to-5 favorite in the Dahlia Handicap (gr. IIT) last out at Hollywood Park on Dec. 18, appears to be a standout among 12 fillies and mares entered in Saturday’s $75,000 Marshua’s River Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Jockey Edgar Prado gets the call on Naissance Royale for trainer Christophe Clement in the 1 1/16 miles turf test. The chestnut daughter of Giant’s Causeway was competitive in French Group races before being sent to Clement in the summer of 2005, capturing the Lake Placid Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga in her American debut.
Naissance Royal has made most of her starts since then in graded stakes, losing a neck decision when second in the Beaugay Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct in late April, winning the Nassau Stakes (Can-II) at Woodbine in June, and running another big race at Woodbine in the fall, finishing third in the E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-I) in October.
An intriguing prospect in Saturday’s race is David Hutcherson and Dan Bockmon’s 5-year-old mare Carolina Sky, with jockey Rafael Bejarano aboard for trainer Ralph Nicks. The daughter of Sky Classic broke her maiden going a mile at Laurel Park last winter for trainer Flint Stiles in her second start.
Carolina Sky didn’t run again until surfacing in June at Louisiana Downs, where she reeled off four straight victories on turf, including the River Cities Breeders’ Cup for trainer Morris Nicks, Ralph’s father. In her only start since, Carolina Sky contested the pace to the far turn in the Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5, but tired to last of 11 at the finish.
$75,000 Marshua's River Stakes (Race 9, 5:10 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Grecian Lover (FL), 118, Cornelio H. Velasquez
2. Royal Wave (KY), 122, Rajiv Maragh
3. Jenny Joy (FL), 122, Mark Guidry
4. Baena (KY), 118, John R. Velazquez
5. Calla Lily (KY), 118, Javier Castellano
6. Carolina Sky (KY), 118, Rafael Bejarano
7. Aerocat (FL), 118, Rosemary B. Homeister, Jr.
8. Bright Abundance (KY), 118, Kent J. Desormeaux
9. Factual Contender (NY), 118, Joe Bravo
10. Naissance Royale (IRE), 118, Edgar S. Prado
11. Thetactics Ofdance (FL), 118, Cornelio H. Velasquez
12. Skip Command (FL), 118, Elvis Trujillo