Regalo Mia comes home strong to win the Orchid Stakes.
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Regalo Mia comes home strong to win the Orchid Stakes.
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Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin

Regalo Mia Wraps Up Orchid Win with Late Run

Michelle Nihei trainee registers first graded stakes win in 1 1/2-mile grass test.

Regalo Mia found room on the outside in the drive and came home powerfully to capture the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) for the first graded victory of her career March 30 on the Gulfstream Park turf (VIDEO).

Luis Contreras got the victory in the 1 1/2-mile marathon with a well-timed ride on the 4-year-old Sligo Bay  filly. They swept past Irish Mission in deep stretch at odds of nearly 9-1 to win going away by two lengths in a strong time of 2:23.48 on firm going.

Italian-bred filly Angegreen, ridden by Joe Rocco Jr., pipped Irish Mission and John Velazquez by a nose at the wire for second, with Anjaz fourth in the field of 10 older fillies and mares. Aigue Marine, the 6-5 favorite off a four-length win over an allowance field March 7 at Gulfstream, finished seventh.

Regalo Mia, trained by Michelle Nihei for owner Steven W. Ciccarone, earned her second stakes win of the meet following a score in the Sunshine Mllions Filly & Mare Turf Jan. 19 by three-quarters of a length over a yielding course. She was given nearly six weeks off following that effort before returning to the work tab at Palm Meadows March 1.

She posted her third win from four starts over the Gulfstream course, breaking through in graded company after three consecutive graded stakes placings last year.

Juvenal Diaz bred the winning bay filly in Florida from the Red Bullet mare Shake It Up.

Regalo Mia raced mid-pack early while reserved along the inside as outsider Closing Range took the field through an opening half mile in a quick :47.73 for the distance. Game Fair, another longshot, took the lead while completing a mile in 1:36.38 before being headed by Irish Mission rounding the final bend. Irish Mission, who had raced three wide into the stretch, led to the the sixteenth pole when overtaken by Regalo Mia, who swung wide for the charge to the wire.

Off the board just once in 10 lifetime starts, Regalo Mia earned $90,000 for her third victory, boosting her career bankroll to $327,721.

Carrying 119 pounds, Regalo Mia paid $19.40, $9, and $5.20 as the fourth choice. She keyed a $231.80 exacta with 12-1 shot Angegreen, who returned $10.80 and $5.60. Irish Mission paid $4.60.

Anjaz was followed by the 123-pound high weight Starformer, winner of The Very One (gr. IIIT) in her most recent start Feb. 16. Then came Seanchai, Aigue Marine, Game Fair, Tree Hugger, and Closing Range.