Naissance Royale Finds Winning Path in Suwannee River

Monceaux Stable’s heavily favored Naissance Royale charged down the stretch in Saturday’s $100,000 Suwannee River Handicap (gr. IIIT) to catch J'ray in the final strides for a neck victory at Gulfstream Park.

The 5-year-old Irish-bred mare, ridden by Edgar Prado, was timed in 1:46 2/5 for the 1 1/8-mile turf test.

Naissance Royale, the daughter of Giant’s Causeway trained by Christophe Clement, had finished an unlucky second in the Dahlia Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park in December and also had trouble as the runner-up in the Marshua’s River Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 13 in her last two starts, both as the odds-on choice.

“She’s been very consistent," said Clement, noting that Naissance Royale is scheduled to be bred. "I was pretty confident. When they are special they can overcome bad trips, us (trainers) and any other problems that come their way.”

The winner, breaking from the rail, raced at the rear of the 10-horse field as the outsider Silversider established the pace of :23 2/5, :47 and 1:11 2/5. Silversider gave way as Brazilian took over briefly leaving the turn, but J'ray, ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Anthony Sciametta Jr., swept past while four wide and looked like a winner leaving the furlong pole. Naissance Royale was rolling, however, and registered her fifth win in 16 starts in timely fashion.

“She’s a beautiful filly," Prado said. "You saw what she can do today. I think the post position helped her a lot. Last time she drew the outside and was fanned wide. She can run down any horse in the stretch. It was a perfect trip today."

Naissance Royale, who shared top weight of 119 pounds with J'ray, improved her career bankroll to $588,213.

The 6-year-old Argentine-bred mare Potra Clasica finished third, 2 1/2 lengths behind J’ray.

“We’re happy with the way the horse ran," Sciametta said of the runner-up. "If you look at her past performances, she’s very honest. She never disappoints and always shows up and is right there. That was a very nice horse she ran second to."

The winner, who is out of the Forty Niner mare Net Worth, paid $4.20, $2.80 and $2.20 as the 11-10 choice. J'ray, who lost the Frances Genter (gr. IIIT) at Calder by a head in her last start and the Mrs. Revere (gr. IIT) by a neck at Churchill Downs prior to that, returned $3.40 and $2.60. The Argentine-bred Potra Clasica, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, was $5.20 to show.

Nottawasaga finished fourth, followed by Cursora, Brazilian, La Dolce Vita, Silversider, Baleriana and Jacaranda Jane.

(Chart, Equibase)

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