05/28/2012 3:46PM

Belmont Park: Better Lucky by a nose in Sands Point

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
A late rush by Regalo Mia (5) fails to catch Better Lucky by a nose in the Sands Point.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Better Lucky was really good -  and a little bit lucky -  to win Monday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park by a nose over the tough-luck Regalo Mia.

Making her first start on turf, Better Lucky got a ground-saving trip from Eddie Castro, before being tipped three wide for the stretch. She had to work hard to wrest the lead from 23-1 shot Zultanite in deep stretch while holding off the late-running Regalo Mia on the line.

“I was a little concerned, I thought she’d be on the lead easy but it looked like we were getting a little bit outrun,” said trainer Tom Albertrani. “Eddie did a great job, he rode her with patience, found a seam to get through and she finished up good.”

Watching it live, Albertrani said he would have settled for a dead heat.

Better Lucky, a daughter of Ghostzapper out of the Seeking the Gold mare Sahara Gold, covered the 1 1/16 miles over firm turf in 1:42.75 and returned $18.20.

Albertrani, who trains Better Lucky for Darley Stable, opted to try Better Lucky on the turf after she won a first-level allowance race by 5 1/4 lengths in the mud on May 2.

“I’ve seen horses that have run well in the mud and handle the turf,” said Albertrani, mentioning Brilliant Speed as an example. “It’s kind of a different angle, you’re not always certain it’s going to work, but sometimes it does. It certainly did today.”

Regalo Mia, trained by Michelle Nihei, has now finished within a neck or nose in three stakes. She was beaten a neck in the Florida Oaks and Grade 3 Herecomesthebride.

 She finished a neck in front of Zultanite, who was five lengths clear of Somali Lemonade, the 4-5 favorite who was fractious in the paddock and who was wearing front bandages for the first time. Preach Tome Daddy, Modulate, Firehouse Red and Dreaming of Cara completed the order of finish.