Al Shaqab Racing's Sandiva picked up another graded stakes victory and a second win in the $150,000 Marshua's River (G3T) when she won this year's edition by a half-length in a possible cap to her racing career.
In the 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares on Gulfstream Park's turf course Jan. 14, Isabella Sings took control early and led comfortably through the first six furlongs. Under jockey Edgard Zayas, the Todd Pletcher-trained Isabella Sings extended her lead to 6 1/2 lengths ahead of Sea Coast on the backside, and set quick fractions of :23.17, :46. 37, and 1:09.80.
The other Pletcher trainee, Sandiva went three wide around the turn under jockey Javier Castellano to go outside Sea Coast as those two began to cut into Isabella Sings' lead. Finally catching up in the stretch, Sea Coast went to the rail while Sandiva moved to the outside of Isabella Sings and got up to win by a half length, stopping the clock in 1:39.56. In a photo for second, Sea Coast nosed out the pacesetter.
Favored Sandiva returned $4.80, $3.00, and $2.20 across the board. Sea Coast paid $4.60 and $2.80, while Isabella Sings was worth $2.40.
"She just needed a little freshening. She had a solid campaign and she seemed like she was just a touch off form and we knew that she loves Gulfstream. We kind of intentionally freshened her up with these races in mind," Pletcher said, mentioning her third-place effort in the 7 1/2 furlong South Beach Stakes Dec. 17 at Gulfstream.
"She is versatile enough that 7 1/2 is probably a tick short than ideal, but she showed enough quality that she almost got there, but I think, obviously, that race helped her out today."
Days before the race, Pletcher said that the Marshua's River could be the last time on the track for both Sandiva and Siena Farm's Isabella Sings before heading off to the breeding shed. Sandiva is booked to Al Shaqab's stallion and three-time grade 1 winner Mshawish . However, after the race, the trainer said he might get one more start out of the 6-year-old mare.
"She is booked (to be bred) to Mshawish this year, so we'll get with team Al Shaqab to see if she will have one more run (in the grade 3 Suwannee River Feb. 11) or go on to be bred," Pletcher said.
Bred in Ireland by Denis McDonnell, the daughter of Footstepsinthesand was purchased by Bobby O'Ryan and Middleham Park for $28,476 at the Goffs Doncaster premier yearling sale. She now boasts a record of 8-4-3 from 23 starts, with earnings of $751,277, and has won a stakes race every year from ages 2 to 6.