The Sands Point, at 1 1/16 miles on the Belmont Park inner turf, was one of four graded stakes on the May 28 Memorial Day card at the New York track.
Jockey Eddie Castro settled Better Lucky off the slow early pace of Preach Tome Daddy and Julien Leparoux, as Zultanite kept in close attendance. After an opening quarter mile in :25.60 and a half that was completed in :49.74, the lead was unchanged as the field raced down the backside.
Coming out of the second turn, Zultanite took over but was soon joined by a fast-moving Better Lucky. Zultanite refused to go away and it appeared the race would be a duel between the daughter of El Corredor ridden by Ramon Dominguez and Better Lucky.
Also making a bold move in the middle of the course was Regalo Mia, benefitting from an aggressive ride by Javier Castellano. Regalo Mia continued to charge to the front, but Better Lucky held off the challenge, keeping her nose in front on the line. The final time was 2:42.75.
The winner paid $18.20, $8.50, and $6.50. Regalo Mia was worth $4.80 and $4.10. Zultanite held on gamely for third, a neck behind the runner-up, paying $7.70. Somali Lemonade, the 4-5 favorite, bobbled at the start and gradually made up ground, finishing fourth. She was followed by Preach Tome Daddy, Modulate, Firehouse Red, and Dreaming of Cara.
The win was the third in five starts for the daughter of Ghostzapper -Sahara Gold, by Seeking the Gold. The $120,000 winner’s purse improved her bankroll to $202,950.
“I was a little concerned; I thought she’d be on the lead easy,” said winning trainer Tom Albertrani. “It looked like we were getting a little bit outrun, but Eddie did a great job, just rode with patience and found a seam to get through. She finished up good. The last jump was pretty tight, I said ‘I’ll settle for a dead heat here!’
“From past experience, I’ve seen horses run well in the mud (and then run well on the grass),” Albertrani said of the winner, whose two previous wins had been on tracks rated sloppy and muddy. “It’s kind of a different angle, you’re not always certain it will work, but sometimes it does. It certainly did today. We’re very excited that she was able to win this race and we’ll just pick a spot down the road for her.”
“I saved ground all the way. I got a nice position behind number 6 (Preach Tome Daddy). Coming into the stretch I moved to the outside and she gave me all that she had. She tried really hard and held for the photo finish.”