Inimitable Romanee After 3rd in Row in Orchid
by Jack Shinar
Date Posted: 3/27/2014 4:23:13 PM
Last Updated: 3/28/2014 9:35:50 AM

Inimitable Romanee won The Very One Stakes at a length on Feb. 15.
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Photo: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King

Distance-loving Inimitable Romanee aims for her third graded stakes win in a row when she takes on eight other older filly and mare rivals in the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the grass March 29 at Gulfstream Park.

The Orchid, at 1 1/2 miles, is one of seven graded stakes on Saturday's Florida Derby program at Gulfstream. It goes as race 10 with a projected post of 4:26 p.m. EDT.

Trained by Graham Motion, the stalking Inimitable Romanee delivered a one-length score at odds of 10-1 in The Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) at 1 3/8 miles over the course Feb. 15 for owner Gallagher's Stud. That was the first start in more than three months for the 6-year-old gray mare by Maria's Mon. It followed her one-length tally in the 12-furlong Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) late last year on the Aqueduct Racetrack turf, which ended an 11-race losing skid.

Off those wins, Inimitable Romanee will carry top weight of 123 pounds, six more than each of her rivals in the 1 1/2-mile Orchid. Motion, who previously won the Orchid with the German mare La Luna de Miel in 2011, has tabbed Alan Garcia to ride once again.

The Very One's close second and third finishers, Aigue Marine and Viva Rafaela, also return in this spot. The British-bred mare Aigue Marine, by Galileo, is joined by stablemate Antonia Autumn to give trainer Christophe Clement two good shots at turning the tables on Inimitable Romanee.

Clement has taken the Orchid a record six times, including four in a row from 1999-2002, but has not won it since 2004 with Meridiana. Aigue Marine, who finished a neck in front of Viva Rafaela last time, is looking for her first stakes win since arriving in the United States from France late in 2012. This will be the stakes debut for Antonia Autumn, who has back-to-back wins in allowance/optional claiming heats on the Gulfstream turf this season.

Joel Rosario draws the riding assignment on Aigue Marine, while Julien Leparoux is back aboard Antonia Autumn.

The Brazilian-bred mare Viva Rafaela can give trainer Todd Pletcher his fifth Orchid win. Winner of the Brazilian Oaks (Brz-I) in November 2012, Stud TNT's 5-year-old daughter of Know Heights is also seeking her first stakes win in the United States. John Velazquez rides.

Godolphin's Anjaz, a three-time winner in Great Britain, is to make her first start of the year after being scratched at the gate when fractious prior to the start of The Very One. Trained by Tom Albertrani, the 5-year-old Street Cry   mare was fourth in last year's Orchid, which was her first United States start, and followed that with a runner-up finish in the Sheepshead Bay (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park last May.

Anjaz has not raced since finishing second in the Waya Stakes on the inner turf at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 5. Rajiv Marah has the call.

Caroline Thomas, fifth last time in Gulfstream's Suwannee River (gr. IIIT) Feb. 8, tries blinkers for trainer Barclay Tagg.

$150,000 Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 10, 4:26 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Aigue Marine (GB), J Rosario, 117, C Clement
2. Anjaz (KY), R Maragh, 117, T Albertrani
3. Stick to Your Guns (KY), E Wilson, 117, G C Contessa
4. Antonia Autumn (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, C Clement
5. Inimitable Romanee (NY), A Garcia, 123, H G Motion
6. Caroline Thomas (KY), L Saez, 117, B Tagg
7. Viva Rafaela (BRZ), J R Velazquez, 117, T A Pletcher
8. Clearbrook (KY), J Castellano, 117, W I Mott
9. Hunter Forward (AUS), A O Solis, 117, A J Kingsley Jr.
Blinkers On: Caroline Thomas



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