11/29/2013 4:49PM

Aqueduct: Royal Lahaina pulls 13-1 surprise in Go for Wand

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Royal Lahaina and Jose Ortiz upset the Grade 2 Go for Wand on Friday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Owner Jim Riccio entered Royal Lahaina in Friday’s Grade 2 Go for Wand Handicap hoping to get a piece of the $300,000 pie. Neither he, nor the betting public, figured it would be the biggest slice.

But there was Riccio in the Aqueduct winner’s circle after Royal Lahaina, under Jose Ortiz, took control of the Go for Wand in upper stretch and cruised to a 2 1/2-length victory at odds of 13-1. Centring, the 2-1 favorite, rallied down the center of the track to get second by a neck over My Pal Chrisy. Willet, Ol Donyo, Fantasy of Flight, and Street Girl completed the order of finish.

The win was the seventh from 25 starts for Royal Lahaina, a 5-year-old daughter of Chapel Royal whom Riccio claimed for $50,000 in April 2011 at Gulfstream. In five previous stakes tries, Royal Lahaina had won just the off-the-turf Mariensky Stakes at Belmont in June. Most recently, she had finished fourth in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm.

Friday, in what was just her second start for trainer Todd Pletcher, Royal Lahaina broke sharply out of the gate, stalked the pace of Fantasy of Flight and Ol Donyo while three wide, took the lead turning for home, and was an easy winner.

Royal Lahaina ran a mile in 1:36.56 and returned $28.20 to win as the second-longest shot on the board.

“She broke really well," Oritz said. "She put me in a good position. At the three-eighths I started looking back, I know I have a lot of horse. I was just a passenger today.”

Riccio, who teamed with Pletcher and Ortiz earlier in the day to win a $35,000 claimer with The Truth and K G, said he would have been happy with a third-place finish and a graded-stakes placing for Royal Lahaina.

“I think she definitely likes Aqueduct,” Riccio said. “Hopefully, there would be a little bit of a pace and we could pick up some pieces. She was sitting so much closer today than her last few races. Good ride, good job training, good job everywhere, and I get to reap the awards.”

Royal Lahaina is now 2-1-0 from three starts over Aqueduct’s main track. Racing here switches to the inner track on Dec. 11. Royal Lahaina is 2-1-1 from four starts on the inner track.

“I would say let’s stay at Aqueduct and see what it has to offer,” Riccio said.

Now that Royal Lahaina is a Grade 2 winner, somebody might come calling to buy her as a broodmare.

“I gave my number out before the race,” Riccio said. “Maybe somebody will call.”

Geary Burgen More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pletcher teaming up with Riccio is dead wrong. Was Dutrow in the winner's circle?
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
Horse sure ran like he was in the stable. Really could see that one coming ? Racetrack is only positive factor I could dig up.