Orchid 'Cap: Familiar Rivals Meet Again
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Very One Handicap winner Mauralakana will find some familiar foes in the Orchid Handicap.
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Five of the eight entrants in the $150,000 Orchid Handicap (gr. IIIT) will face one another for the second time in three weeks, as the older fillies and mares do battle March 30 on the turf at Gulfstream Park.

Mauralakana, Herboriste, Eclisse, Cliffrose and Hostess were all part of the Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT) on a yielding Gulfstream turf back on March 8. In that 1 1/8-mile contest, it was Mauralakana who prevailed, the 5-year-old Muhtathir mare making a huge run in the stretch to get up by a nose over Tejida.

British-bred Herboriste was a tough luck loser in the three-way photo, finishing third. Eclisse (fifth), Cliffrose (sixth), and Hostess (seventh) were all well back on that day. In the Orchid, the rivals will stretch out to a mile and a half, a distance only Herboriste has conquered.

Robert Scarborough’s Mauralakana will try to hand a remarkable seventh Orchid title to trainer Christophe Clement, who will also saddle Brushwood Stable’s Duchess Royale. Bred in France out of the Double Bed mare Jimkana, Mauralakana has been a consistent group and graded stakes runner throughout her career, taking money eight times in those ranks.

Since coming to America in the fall of 2006, Mauralakana has won a pair of graded stakes and was second by a half-length in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland two years ago. She was 2-1-0 from eight starts last year, and was given more than four months off after her final effort in September, a sixth-place finish in the Yellow Ribbon (gr. IT) at Santa Anita.

Rene Douglas, who was aboard for the Very One, will get the return call, as they will break from the rail.

Irish-bred Duchess Royale made her U.S. debut March 7 in allowance company at Gulfstream, finishing three-quarters of a length back in the third for Clement. The 4-year-old Danehill filly has never been off the board in seven career starts, all but one of them coming in England.

Michael Matz trainee Herboriste began her career in France, where she won once in six starts as a 3-year-old. Owned by Bee Charmer Inc., the Hernando mare won in allowance company last fall at Keeneland in her fourth try on U.S. soil, then was moved into graded stakes company. The Very One was her best effort in three blacktype starts.

Jose Lezcano will ride Herboriste, who will break from post seven.

Edmund Gann’s Eclisse will likely set the pace in a field that lacks much early speed. The French-bred daughter of Ski Chief led into the stretch of the Very One before giving way grudgingly.

$150,000 Orchid Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 5:07 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Mauralakana (FR), 120, Rene R. Douglas
2. Leap in the Sun (KY), 115, Joe Bravo
3. Cliffrose (GER), 115, Cornelio H. Velasquez
4. Hostess (KY), 116, John R. Velazquez
5. I'm in Love (KY), 116, Kent J. Desormeaux
6. Eclisse (FR), 116, Eddie Castro
7. Herboriste (GB), 117, Jose Lezcano
8. Duchess Royale (IRE), 115, Edgar S. Prado

 

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