Sandiva flies home to win the Suwannee River Stakes.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Sandiva flies home to win the Suwannee River Stakes.
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Sandiva Surges to Capture Suwannee River

Irish import takes first American stakes win by a length Feb. 7 at Gulfstream Park.

Al Shaqab Racing's Sandiva won her second straight stakes and first North American graded race with a one-length victory over Rosalind in the $150,000 Suwannee River Stakes (gr. IIIT) Feb. 7 at Gulfstream Park (VIDEO).

The 4-year-old Irish-bred filly was favored at 2-1 and made a run at longshot leader Skylander Girl on the final turn of the 1 1/8-mile race on a firm turf course.

Under Javier Castellano, the Todd Pletcher trainee jumped out to a 2 1/2-length lead in the stretch and held off closing bids from Rosalind and third-place finisher Scampering, who was three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up.

"She gave me a great kick turning home," Castellano said of Sandiva. "She's a very straightforward horse."

By Footstepsinthesand, Sandiva finished the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.31 and paid $6.20, $3.60, and $3 after 15-1 shot Skylander Girl ran the first quarter in :24.32, the half in :48.02, and three quarters in 1:11.45.

Breaking from post 8, Sandiva settled fifth in the 11-horse field until making her move in the final turn.

"It pretty much unfolded the way we thought it would," Pletcher said. "We just wanted to save a little ground on the first turn and try to put her in the clear on the far turn and let her take it from there. We got the trip we wanted and then she came home with a sustained run."

Out of Mark of Esteem mare Miss Corinne, Sandiva pushed her career earnings to $355,557. Her record improved to 6-1-0 in 13 career starts.

Rosalind paid $6.80 and $5 while making her first start for trainer Chad Brown, and Scampering paid $5.20. Starstruck, White Rose, Nellie Cashman, Bitty Kitty, Bohemian Dance, Skylander Girl, Rock On Baby, and Pink Poppy completed the order of finish. E B RyderCay Dancer and Sheer Drama were scratched before the race.

A multiple group III winner in Europe bred by Dennis McDonnell, Sandiva won her first U.S. stakes last time out in the Tropical Park Oaks at Gulfstream, after finishing seventh and fifth, respectively, in the San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) at Del Mar and the Mrs. Revere Stakes (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs last year.