Royal Delta draws six, including turf mare Sandiva, while Santa Maria attracts eight

February 10th, 2016

Saturday’s $200,000 Royal Delta (G2) at Gulfstream Park is scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the dirt track. However the top runner in the race is turf mare Sandiva, who would be making her main track debut in the contest.

Sandiva is a dual Grade 3 winner on Gulfstream’s turf, taking the Suwannee River (G3) last year and opening her five-year-old campaign on January 9 with a 1 1/2-length victory in the Marshua’s River (G3).

The Todd Pletcher-trained chestnut joined stablemate Enchantress in the Royal Delta entry box but may not actually show up for the race. Her presence could have been used to ensure the race was drawn despite such a short field.

With that in mind, Best Behavior has a shot at going off favored with jockey Edgard Zayas aboard. The six-year-old bay has run 16 of her 28 career races on Gulfstream’s main track and closed out 2015 with a two-length victory in the Sugar Swirl (G3) on December 26.

Best Behavior also placed in a quintet of Gulfstream stakes last season, including returning to be second off a five-month break in the one-mile Rampart (G3) just 14 days before her Sugar Swirl score. That latter race netted the Marty Wolfson charge a 103 BRIS Speed rating.

Call Pat could give Best Behavior a run for her money in the Royal Delta following a pair of thirds in the Turnback the Alarm H. (G3) and Falls City H. (G2) to end her five-year-old campaign. The Brad Cox trainee will be making her Gulfstream debut on Saturday.

Completing the Royal Delta field are Grade 2-placed Enchantress, third in her 2016 debut sprinting over the track; dual Grade 2-placed Penwith, a two-length winner against allowance/optional claimers on January 21 at Santa Anita; and Gamblers Rose, whose only two tries against stakes rivals resulted in well-beaten finishes.

Cross-country in California, the $200,000 Santa Maria (G2) saw eight distaffers enter to go 8 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita Park, and that field is much more competitive than the Royal Delta.

The Santa Maria features Birdatthewire, Yahilwa, Living the Life and Tara’s Tango, any of whom could end up in the winner’s circle on Saturday.

Birdatthewire made her sophomore finale a half-length victory in the La Brea (G1) on December 26 before returning January 16 to run second in the La Canada (G2). Yahilwa was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third in the La Canada, and will be looking to turn the tables on her rival as well as improve on her seventh-place finish in last year’s Santa Maria.

Tara’s Tango and Living the Life met up in Santa Monica (G2) last out on January 23, with the former finishing just a neck behind the winner in third. Living the Life crossed the wire 2 1/4 lengths farther back in fourth.

Another Santa Maria entrant who ran in the Santa Monica is Kyriaki, who was a well-beaten eighth that day. Gas Total and Star Act were 10th and 11th, respectively, in the Robert J. Frankel S. (G3) most recently on December 27, and help round out the Santa Maria field with graded debuter Big Break.

Earlier on Santa Anita’s Saturday program, seven turf runners will go a mile in the $200,000 Arcadia (G2).

The well-rounded group features multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Obviously, who just missed by a neck in the San Gabriel (G2) on January 2 to kick off his eight-year-old campaign.

Also in the race are multiple Grade 2 winner Om, who captured the Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) on December 26; Grade 3 hero Prospect Park, unraced since a third in the grassy Del Mar Derby (G2) last September; and stakes scorer Bolo, who was third in last year’s Santa Anita Derby (G1) and hasn’t been seen in competition since a ninth-placing in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) over Belmont Park’s turf on Independence Day.

Stakes-placed Cape Wolfe, Grade 3 winner Big Cazanova and Yes Yes Yes make up the rest of the Arcadia field.

Best Behavior photo courtesy of Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography
Birdattthewire photo courtesy of Benoit Photos
Om photo courtesy of Benoit Photos